Santander, the Spanish bank, is gearing up to roll out an international money transfer app thanks to a partnership with blockchain FinTech startup Ripple.
According to a report in Business Insider citing comments that Nathan Bostock, U.K. CEO of Santander, made at the International FinTech conference in London late last week, the bank is gearing up to enable cross-border payments via blockchain, the technology that makes cryptocurrency possible. “This spring, if no one beats us to it, we will be the first large retail bank to carry out cross-border payments at scale with blockchain technology,” Bostock said, according to Business Insider. He said Ripple, which is focused on using blockchain technology to enable cross-border payments, was the partner for the effort — but did not say when a product would launch. A spokesperson for Santander declined to comment on the statements from Bostock during the conference. Santander, reported Business Insider, invested in Ripple in both 2015 and 2016. Internally in 2016 it tested out an international payments app that relied on Ripple technology, noted the report. With that internal project, Santander said it was able to settle transfers within 24 hours — much faster than the days it typically takes. With the trial, users were able to learn how much the transfer cost before engaging in the transaction. Business Insider noted that at the end of January, Santander Chief Executive Ana Botin mentioned the upcoming launch of the new payment app, announcing then that it would be rolled out in Spain, Brazil, the U.K. and Poland.
At the same time that Santander is readying a new cross-border payment app, one of its U.S. units is making peace with regulators over practices. Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc, a unit of Spain’s Banco Santander, announced earlier this month it will pay nearly $25 million to two U.S. states — $22 million to Massachusetts and $2.87 million to Delaware — to resolve predatory subprime auto loan allegations. Auto lending is big business for Santander — it is $38.5 billion of the bank holding company’s $137 billion in assets. Recently, new policies have been put in place to identify deal misconduct. Santander has also created an Officer of Consumer Practices to ensure that customers are treated fairly.