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Digital Banking Innovation

As the first fully digital bank in Spain, Openbank is leading the way in banking innovation. We interviewed Patricia Benito, Chief Digital and Business Officer at Openbank to find out more.

To begin can you tell us a little about Openbank SA?

Patricia Benito, Chief Digital and Business Officer​, Openbank
Patricia Benito, Chief Digital and Business Officer , Openbank

Openbank is our digital native bank, our Fintech and the Santander Group digital bank. This gives us the best of two models: the dynamism of a startup and the solidity of a financial group of the size and trajectory of Santander.

It is a bank that today has one of the most advanced technologies in the world in terms not only of functionality for our customers but also in the application of intelligent algorithms and use of the cloud.

The recent relaunch of Openbank demonstrates the solid position and leadership that the Santander Group holds in technological innovation in a practical way, doing what we know how to do, which is banking for our clients, applying the latest technologies to their day to day banking.

We have adapted our culture and corporate philosophy to that of a digital bank, with all the flexibility, horizontality and efficiency that this implies.

Key Facts of Openbank.

  • Digital retail bank with € 7 billion in deposits
  • Investment platform with more than €1 billion AUM
  • More than 1 million customers
  • Fully cloud based digital front-end
  • Web-services and APIs for 100% of customer services
  • Artificial Intelligence based credit risk, anti-money laundering, fraud and commercial algorithms
  • Independent banking license, fully owned by Santander Group

You are the first fully digital bank in Spain. What are the advantages for customers?

The new value proposition of Openbank was designed from scratch, answering the following question: how would a client design a bank making the most of new technologies? The result is today´s Openbank, a bank that greatly simplifies things for the client such as:

  • Attention 24/7 and each client has a number of assigned relationship managers who will always look after them. Premium client segments have a dedicated manager.
  • Web and application built from scratch, with a modern, simple, customer-focused usability.
  • We have incorporated an expense classifier by type, where expenses can be compared to the previous month.
  • Also the possibility of turning off credit cards temporarily if misplaced.
  • We have also reinforced security, and simplified the operation for our customers, with four-position alphanumeric codes that are easy to remember and secure
  • Our new app and web include a photo or avatar chosen by the customer that enforces passive phishing security.
  • You can defer an expense made with the card, at any time, with just a few clicks with a smartphone.
  • We have integrated the most important functionality of a professional investment platform for everyone to use with the best usability. We have democratized investment.
  • We have incorporated what we call “social investing”: we tell you what equities are most bought and sold by our customers, in aggregate
  • All these features are available on the website or the app, one single app for everything.


Let’s talk about the technology you use. What role does artificial intelligence play?

At Openbank we use Machine Learning and other artificial intelligence methods across all our business cycle, including AML and fraud detection, credit risk algorithms, to improve customer experience, and of course, for commercial applications including product propensity.

We have already in place a new cloud based data architecture model that has enabled us to take 100% of our credit risk decisions based on Machine Learning algorithms. This has increased the access to credit of our customer base, and reduce the risk of default. This has also enabled us to do risk based credit pricing.

In terms of improving customer service and experience, Machine Learning allows us to offer a high degree of personalization understood at all levels, web content and communications, all tailored to each customer.

In general, we have the luxury of being a digitally native company, so it is easy for us to integrate the datification of every process into our business.

As one of the first banks in the world to use cloud-based IT infrastructure, can you explain the advantages of this type of infrastructure?

Openbank becomes one of the first banks in the world with a complete banking offering that houses its software and back office services, risk management, customer relationship management (CRM) and interfaces (APIs), all in a fully encrypted form, with the maximum security of the market and with replicas in different locations in Europe. This technology is fully tested and has the approval of the European Central Bank.


– High security levels (99.999999%)

– Operational flexibility for changes: campaigns, monitor what works best, weekly update of app and web.

– Customization of the offer to customers (ads, offers …): use big data

– Risk-weighting algorithms

Online security is a major concern for customers. What does Openbank do to help ensure a secure environment?

Innovation and user experience combined with the security and robustness of the Santander group, without losing sight of compliance to international regulations and high standards of security while adapting us to the demands of the digital world.

We innovate to reinforce our security; the bank is investing in security mechanisms to customize our web and app including, as I said before, a photo or avatar that the client chooses and that reinforces the passive security against phishing.

What are some of the new features clients can enjoy?

A) Openbank Wealth: new platform, open architecture in pension plans and funds, new broker (social investing, visual …)
B) OpenYoung: a range of products (account and card) for children to manage their savings with parental supervision.
C) A single App: an all-in-one app that customers can access to all the functionalities in one session.

  1. Single app
  2. Single session
  3. Simple to use
  4. Personal and fair
  5. Start from the customer

What are your future plans for development?

We have just completed our payment methods offer, now including, besides our own wallet, Samsung, Android and Apple pay. In the next two years we should work on our international expansion to other key Santander markets. We will also continue evolving our platform, including the launch of robo-advisory and next generation machine learning applications. Though you should expect to see a continuous release of new products and services every month, we will resist the temptation to use new technologies if they will not contribute to a better customer experience. At Openbank we think that technology follows the value proposition to customers, and not the other way around.