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Grupo Santander Selects Microsoft Technology for Its Enterprise Payments Infrastructure


Today at Sibos 2007, Microsoft Corp. announced that Grupo Santander, the world’s 10th-largest financial group by market value, has chosen to use Microsoft® technology as part of its strategic payments infrastructure. The solution, due to go live during the next year, will see the consolidation of the Group’s individual banks’ payments systems from multiple mainframes into one homogeneous IT infrastructure.

The consolidated payments system will utilize Microsoft BizTalk® Server 2006 as part of its core, as well as Microsoft SQL Server™, Microsoft BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, and Web services, to enable faster payment process times, reduce operating costs and bring significant cost efficiencies to the entire Grupo Santander. The initial phase of the project will see the Group’s larger banks — Banco Santander S.A., Abbey National plc and Banesto S.A. — implementing the technology first, followed by the smaller banks and building societies in the Group. The Microsoft-based core payments system will enable connectivity and transactions processing for Single European Payments Area (SEPA), connecting to the Euro Banking Association (EBA) and UK Faster Payments.

Grupo Santander is currently developing different projects that will culminate in a common payment infrastructure for the whole Group. These include STP Manager, a system designed to handle all financial message interchanges between the Group and external institutions; Faster Payments, a key initiative that will significantly increase the speed of credit transfer from one account to another, enabling Internet and telephone banking users to benefit from near-real-time payment processing; and SMS Text Messages Banking, which will offer new services to mobile users, increasing customer loyalty and the bank’s revenue.

In addition to a core infrastructure for domestic and non-domestic payments services, it is anticipated that the project will also bring the Group further benefits, including the ability to receive payments information in a variety of formats by consolidating interfaces with the various Automated Clearing Houses (ACH) and corporates it is connected to. The system’s flexibility will enable the payments engine to be modified and routing rules to be altered as required. In addition, having one global payment infrastructure will allow the Group to move payments processing from batch to online.

“Having explored and evaluated various solutions, we chose Microsoft technology after the Group’s architecture team ran a proof of concept at the company’s headquarters in Redmond that proved the system would be able to handle 62 million messages per day, with processing rates of 1,156 messages per second,” said Maite Agujetas, chief architect of Grupo Santander. “The speed of the system and the potential cost savings that could be achieved across the Group as a result helped us come to our decision. In addition, we believe that this project will help us easily adapt our current systems with minimal disruption to our customers.”

“Enterprise payments is a complex and rapidly evolving area. Regulation, compliance, security and technology are all matters affecting the global payments business,” said Sheida Hadji-Ashrafi, worldwide industry manager payments at Microsoft. “Grupo Santander has been looking for a more flexible, open architecture to respond faster to those requirements driven by new EU financial regulations. Microsoft is very pleased to be the platform of choice of Grupo Santander, providing an integrated and flexible infrastructure that will be capable of adapting to the changing market demands as well as reducing costs and inefficiencies from existing systems.”


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