The Company

Santander Group is a diverse retail and commercial bank with over 188,000 employees and 125 million customers.

Industry: Banking
Product: Adverse Media via API
Awards won: 2019 Financial Innovation Awards: Best Innovation in Product or Service Design for Corporate Digital Onboarding

The Challenge

To outdo the digital experiences championed by fintech proponents, Santander UK needed to significantly reduce the cycle time to onboard customers while also monitoring anti-money laundering controls. The bank needed to move away from workloads usually managed through paper-based labor and automate as much of the customer-facing process as possible.

Where the public information regarding a customer application wasn’t available, the bank needed to screen against high volumes of adverse information and media to verify the entity and better understand their financial risk profile.

Santander UK was looking to innovate its technology stack in the corporate bank, moving as much as possible off-premise and into the cloud.

Santander UK automates adverse media screening and reduces customer onboarding time by 50%.Jonathan Holman,
Head of Digital Transformation, Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking

The Solution

Santander UK was looking for a flexible and innovative data provider that could easily integrate into their desired workflow and automate their adverse media screening. Santander UK needed a configurable API. Without that element, the new proposition would have been unworkable. ComplyAdvantage is the only data processor that can provide that level of flexibility to the individual client’s needs.

As a result of the efficiencies attained by automating previously manual processes, Santander UK could securely pass high volumes of data through ComplyAdvantage’s AIM Insight, screen entities against billions of data points and surface adverse results to analysts efficiently.

The breadth of source availability is key to delivering results with AIM Insight. That comprehensive coverage catches issues early through local media — so that by the time the stories have hit the national press, the bank is already one step ahead.

Having articles categorized against a FATF-aligned taxonomy meant they could be filtered very quickly as part of that automated process at the heart of the digital onboarding project.

ComplyAdvantage can respond faster, have broader adverse media searches and match more accurately, guaranteeing that we are not putting the bank under financial crime risk.Jonathan Holman,
Head of Digital Transformation, Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking

Settings within the API are configurable, meaning Santander UK can change thresholds, search strings or any other relevant information as required. Analysts at Santander UK now always have the correct information at their fingertips to make more informed decisions. Difficult manual processes have become a thing of the past, and Santander UK can adapt to regulatory changes and business strategy at a moment’s notice.

The Outcome

Using ComplyAdvantage as part of their digital proposition meant that, overall, Santander UK has been able to cut the customer onboarding cycle time from 12 days mean cycle time to 2 days.

They have also been able to cut process time for both customers and colleagues by more than 50% in most cases and, at times, up to 75 or 80%. Actions that would ordinarily waste compliance officers’ time have been automated, and the compliance team can now focus on addressing other threats to the business.

Santander UK now runs adverse information and media screening on all entities associated with a corporate or SME onboarding case.

The current (ComplyAdvantage) product offering and the roadmap for the future mean the service can evolve with expectations of both regulations and our customer experience that we want to create.Jonathan Holman,
Head of Digital Transformation, Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking


  • Santander (UK) was awarded Best Innovation in Product or Service Design for Corporate Digital Onboarding at the Financial Innovation Awards 2019.
  • Celent recognized Santander (UK) as the winner of the Model Bank 2019 Commercial Customer Onboarding Award for their initiative Taking Onboarding to the Next Level.