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Santander is spending more than £150m on a campus in Milton Keynes that will become the company’s UK technology hub.
The office will accommodate more than 5,000 staff and provide an environment that enables them to think like tech startups.
“[It] will replace the bank’s existing local office buildings with a world-class working environment specifically designed to encourage collaboration and innovation, supported by cutting-edge technology,” said Santander.
Nathan Bostock, CEO at Santander UK, said: “We want a workplace which truly reflects our culture and our vision for the future, which is based on innovation and harnessing new technology to make banking simpler and more personal for our customers.”
A planning application for the campus will be submitted in early 2019. If approved, the building is expected to be ready to open in 2022.
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Santander has a strong background in IT. In the UK, it has acquired a number of organisations and migrated systems to its Partenon core banking platform. This began in 2008, when it moved Abbey on to the platform, followed by Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.
The Partenon system was seen as an advantage through standardisation.
The planned technology hub is vital as Santander UK accelerates its use of digital technology. The bank’s digital initiatives include plans to launch a digital-only bank in the UK that will serve small businesses with traditional banking services and some business services. It is also actively using blockchain, allowing customers to make payments using their voice and using video-conferencing technology to serve customers.
This follows news last year that it was recruiting a digital banking expert from rival Barclays as part of its transformation to meet the needs of its customers. Michael Harte is now chief operating officer at Santander’s UK operation.
Harte is a pioneer of digital banking. In 2012, he headed up a project, as CIO, to put Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s online banking service into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. This move to a public cloud was, at the time, a major world first.