Last update: 05/08/2020
The covid-19 pandemic has upended our routines, our economies, and our confidence in planning for the future—not to mention the health and livelihoods of those affected. At Santander, we are always working to contribute to a better future in our communities. In this regard, we recently participated in the webinar “Post-Covid World: FinTech Landscape,” sponsored by the Institute of International Finance, to explore the next steps for the financial services industry.
In our business, banking and financial services, we face historic levels of uncertainty. And although the pandemic is far from running its course, it’s helpful to think ahead to what our post-covid world might look like. During the recent webinar, panellists included Santander’s Chief Platform Officer, Aiaz Kazi, along with representatives from the Chinese-based insurance and financial services conglomerate Ping An, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and The RegTech Association. Here are three major takeaways from the panellists’ discussion on this topic.
The First Priority: Help Small/Medium Businesses and Individuals Weather the Crisis
As with all crises, the covid-19 pandemic is inflicting damage unevenly. As the market intelligence firm CB Insights recently said: “During economic downturns, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are typically hit the hardest. Unlike larger, more established firms, they have small cash buffers and depend on external capital to sustain growth.”
As soon as the dangerous scope of the pandemic became clear, Santander responded by establishing 70 separate country-specific measures, representing billions of euros, to directly aid and provide breathing room—especially for SMEs and individuals. As an example, we averaged €1.1 billion in loans each day in April through specific credit lines for SMEs and corporates. Our efforts comes alongside those of other global organisations, such as the United Nations, which have also offered pandemic-related support for small businesses.
Our goal at Santander with these measures is to use our position of strength to help take care of our community, partners, and customers.
Next: Stimulate Innovation to Help Businesses and Individuals Prosper
History has taught us that adversity can spur great innovation, because it forces us to take a different perspective, to maybe see things in ways that we couldn’t see before. In this pandemic period, how can we recognise and cultivate innovations that will provide new ways of working and living, helping businesses and individuals to prosper now and in the future? At Santander, we are helping to shape the changes required by fostering SMEs, startups, and entrepreneurial individuals who are motivated to address challenges imposed by the pandemic.
We launched the Santander X Tomorrow Challenge as part of the bank’s €100 million global covid-19 response plan. The X Tomorrow Challenge is awarding a total of to 20 entrepreneurs to help them develop their innovative solutions for mitigating the socioeconomic aftermath of the pandemic
In addition, we were a sponsor of the recent #EUvsVirus hackathon and matchathon. During the hackathon, more than 2,100 multi-disciplinary, multi-national teams generated innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges. We drove the “New and resilient business models” challenge in the Business Continuity category, awarding €10,000 to three winning teams, and also established partnerships with eight winning teams in the follow-up matchathon.
Over the Long Term: Everything Depends on Trust
While innovation is crucial, alone it is not enough. Even the most creative, positive visions for a post-covid-19 world will fail without a solid foundation of trust. In other words, moving intelligently into a post-covid-19 era means knowing who and what to trust—and doing so in an increasingly digital realm. The World Economic Forum and others point to covid-19 triggering greater reliance on digital and online technologies, from remote work and distance learning to telehealth and contactless payments.
Long before the current pandemic hit, we’ve seen data becoming the new currency of the digital world. Just as people repeatedly report that they are most likely to trust banks with their money, we can expect them to similarly trust banks with their data. The pandemic has tremendously accelerated the need for Digital Trust. That’s why we have placed Digital Trust at the heart of our Santander Open Platform.
Covid-19 has forced us all to reassess many things we took for granted. It has also emphasised weaknesses and strengths that existed long before the pandemic appeared. At Santander, we are drawing on the lessons of covid-19 to reaffirm our fundamental values: Simple. Personal. Fair. And to seek fresh and creative ways to extend Digital Trust throughout our entire ecosystem.