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Santander UK recruits digital banking expert from Barclays

Santander UK has poached Michael Harte from Barclays to drive digital transformation

Spanish banking giant Santander has recruited a digital banking expert from rival Barclays as it transforms to meet the needs of its customers.

Michael Harte will become chief operating officer at Santander’s UK operation in 2018.

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 cloud. This move to a public cloud was, at the time, a major world first.

He joined Barclays as head of IT in 2014, and later became head of innovation at the bank.

Banks are being forced to change how they serve customers as people turn to mobile apps in increasing numbers to do their banking.

Read more about app-based banking

British Banking Association research found that last year, 19.6 million people used mobile app-based current account banking, compared with 17.4 million a year earlier – an increase of 2.2 million.

Use of certain app-based services has grown significantly over the past year. In 2016, 86% more people used apps to manage their mortgages and investments than did so in 2015. Over the same period, use of app-based savings functionality rose by 30%, while credit card services via apps were accessed 46% more often.

To keep up with this growth, banks are having to think differently and, as a result, require a different set of IT skills. Harte’s experience will support Santander’s digital transformation in the UK.

According to a Finextra report, Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander, said: “He brings extensive knowledge and experience of both the banking and wider financial services sector, specifically the transformation and disruption occurring across products and business models.

“Michael will be pivotal in delivering our ambitious innovation agenda and our digital transformation, creating a more agile organisation that is responsive to our customer needs and market-leading innovation.”

Competition to traditional banks will increase when the latest EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) becomes law.

PSD2 will enable third parties to access the customer data held by banks via application programming interfaces (APIs), if given permission, and offer services using this information. Payments could be initiated by third-party suppliers and account information viewed via them, or both. This would mean a third party could build services on top of an account and allow the consumer to use these rather than those offered by the bank.

Read more on Financial applications

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