Europe’s largest traditional bank Santander is within weeks of launching its fintech transfer rival, PagoFX, according to several people briefed on the plans.
PagoFX presents fresh competition to rapidly-growing fintech, such as TransferWise, which since 2011 has seen explosive growth offering cheaper and faster currency transfers than traditional banks or Western Union.
Building the team over the last 18 months, executives appointed include ex-PayPal director Cedric Menager, as well as fellow PayPal alum Emilio Meyer Pellegrini, and former head of innovation at Santander Ed Metzger.
“We expect to launch in the coming months in the UK and plan to be present in more than 20 markets in the medium term,” Santander told Sifted, refusing to comment on a specific release date.
PagoFX essentially aims to disrupt the disruptors; designed to serve non-Santander customers outside the bank’s core infrastructure for the first time. This follows efforts by HSBC and RBS, who are building digital side-brands in the face of competition from the likes of Monzo and Revolut.
Despite being spun out of the Madrid-based bank, PagoFX has also deployed a team in London over the last 18 months, aided by a small group of external consultants, including Deloitte.
“We are building on an open-market solution for international payments that combines the price, transparency and user experience you would expect from a fintech with the trust of a solid and secure bank,” says Santander.
PagoFX’s USP seems to rest heavily on its cheaper prices compared to incumbents as well as being a ‘trusted’ name in the sector. It seems the main objective of the new venture by the bank is to stop more ground being lost to the likes of TransferWise.
So rather than being a disruptive, on-the-attack player like many start-ups have to be, Santander’s FX spinout will more likely take a defensive stance to stop more of its 145 million customers leaving for a better offer elsewhere.