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Santander latest bank to tap Google experience

Spanish banking giant is tapping IT skills from Google through its latest senior tech appointment

Santander has recruited a chief platform officer directly from Google as the bank continues its digital transformation.

The appointment of Aiaz Kazi is the latest example of a bank hoping to emulate Google in how it delivers banking services.

“Santander’s open and collaborative technology strategy is a crucial part of its digital transformation to better meet the needs of its 144 million customers,” said a statement from the bank.

Santander said it was transforming its digital channels at the front end as well in the back office. Google’s experience in providing large volumes of transactions in real time with consumer-friendly interfaces is a Holy Grail for banks.

Kazi has good tech credentials. He was previously head of platform ecosystem for Google Cloud, and before that worked at SAP, where he launched SAP Hana.

Lindsey Argalas, chief digital and innovation officer at Santander, said: “Investing in great people [like Kazi] and the best technology allows us to deliver the best possible services to our customers. Through a combination of attracting the best digital talent and opening the bank to the global tech community, we will achieve our vision to be the best open financial services platform in the world.”

Santander is not alone. In late 2017, HSBC named former Google engineer Mark Warriner as its retail bank and wealth management CIO. Warriner joined HSBC retail from Google UK, where he worked for almost six years, reaching the role of director of engineering and also becoming chairman of Google Payments.

This trend could continue as high-paying banks seek to take the cream of tech talent from tech companies. Former Google tech lead Paul Taylor, who is now providing Google-inspired core banking systems to the banking sector through his latest venture, Thought Machine, said tech staff at Google learn from the best.

“I considered myself a pretty good engineer when I got there, but Google takes it to a different level. It’s like working in the kitchen of a master chef,” he said.

Thought Machine practices are heavily influenced by Taylor’s time at Google. Lloyds Banking Group is a Thought Machine customer, and has already announced it is migrating 500,000 existing customer accounts to a Thought Machine core banking platform.

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