Old-school bank branches still hold value and hence, a significant retail presence can help offset the onslaught of the big technology groups in the banking arena, Ana Botin told The Financial Times in her first interview since taking charge of the Spain’s Banco Santander.
Botín confessed that tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are a threat to banks. However, she stressed that banks are well equipped to ward off these competitors.
"You are not going to get married through technology. You are not going to buy a house through technology. I think that is where we are going to compete very effectively with these guys, if we can find a model that combines the personal side with the technology," said Botin.
She added, "The fact is even young people like to go to a branch at least twice a year. That means you need quite a significant retail presence, which they [the big tech groups] don’t have."
Botin admitted that the big four tech companies are cash rich and have less regulation.
Highlighting that regulation can be turned into a positive Botin added, "Regulators are not just looking at our credit and market risk, they are looking at our IT and cyber risk. So we pay a big price, but we also have the advantage that you can probably trust us more than others."
Botin also emphasized digital banking as a core theme and commented, "I think of digital as a means to an end: How do I service and get more loyal customers: how do I achieve operational excellence and how do I change my culture? Those are my three building blocks and if you think about it, digital comes into it in every single one of them."