Santander ran war games to see if fintech would kill its business

Mariano Belinky being interviewed by LendIt founder Peter Renton.
Mariano Belinky being interviewed by LendIt founder Peter Renton. Oscar Williams-Grut/Business Insider

Santander is taking the threat posed by new financial technology, or fintech, startups very seriously.

Speaking at online lending conference LendIt Europe on Wednesday, Mariano Belinky, head of Santander’s fintech investment fund InnoVentures, said the bank has run business-by-business analyses to see if startups would kill its various operations.

He said: “No one thinks this is just an interesting fad, everyone understands the deep and lasting implications that will occur in the banking sector.

“[But] no one thinks this is what kills banks. We had that discussion a while back and actually did a business model by business model analysis.

“The answer is this is something we ought to understand. In some cases it’s OK to ignore it and see what happens, in others we should be the first movers and catch this opportunity and start working with fintech. Santander’s strategy to be top 4 or top 5 in whichever geography we work in. That means in some cases in the UK we see ourselves as a challenger bank.”

Santander has been among the most active banks in embracing startups and new technologies. The bank has set up two investment funds and is actively experimenting with the blockchain technology that underpins bitcoin.

$US100 million (£65 million) fund InnoVentures has to date made 5 investments, most recently backing blockchain startup Ripple and online lender Kabbage.

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