Santander launches Mi Vuelta COVID-19 track and trace app
Santander has launched its “Mi Vuelta” coronavirus track and trace app in a bid to get its workers back into its offices by mid-August, according to an internal source speaking exclusively to FinTech Futures.
Mi Vuelta, which is a Spanish translation meaning “coming back to the office”, will initially be used in its Spanish branches and offices.
The internal app, which allows employees to report any symptoms, “will be available in other countries too”, says a spokesperson at the bank.
Although three senior Santander staff divulge details of the tool’s track and trace abilities, spokespeople at the bank did not comment on the existence of these features.
A Santander banker tells FinTech Futures that the bank will be opening its offices to staff in the UK in mid-August.
“As business activity starts to recover, we are gradually increasing the number of employees working in branches and central offices in Spain,” the spokesperson adds.
“The safety of our employees and customers is our utmost priority and to protect both customers and employees, a comprehensive series of protocols has been put in place which include, among other things: an internal app that allows employees to report any symptoms, facilities to allow temperatures to be monitored, and the provision of protective material such as masks.”
They add that the app was developed “with the same security standards and levels of data protection [applied] to all our banking apps”.
Santander may be paving the way for other organisations to follow suit with internal test, track and trace apps.
Staff prefer WFH
Although many banks are rushing to get back to the office, Vikas Srivastava, chief revenue officer at Integral, believes that the urgency on their part is a sign of a flawed technology strategy.
“When so many other industries have adjusted to a work from home (WFH) set up, why are banks so reliant on the bricks and mortar of their offices?” asks Srivastava.
“This is especially tricky given that many staff wish to maintain a split with WFH and office working set up.”
Santander sources also second Srivastava’s points, saying that they “are now used to the set-up” and “feel more comfortable working from home”. A Santander banker explains that the WFH period has helped him balance work and family life more adequately, and hopes the option won’t disappear.
Srivastava believes that “the time is right for banks to look at off-premise technology to enable part or all of their operations to run like clockwork no matter where their employees are”.
He draws attention to the FX volatility spike that took place in March, noting that those banks that had an off-premise set up were able to cash in. “With uncertainty ahead and the possibility of more market ructions, it would be foolish not to put yourself in a position to work effectively in any situation.”
Only 30% of UK employees ever worked from home during 2019, according to the latest research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Additionally, only 6% of the British public want things to go back to how they were before the coronavirus crisis, according to a recent YouGov poll.
Santander deputy CEO and NHS track and trace app
The Financial Times reported that Tony Prestedge, due to take up the post of deputy chief executive of Santander UK, has been drafted in to “bolster the government’s faltering response to the coronavirus pandemic”. This took place when prime minister, Boris Johnson, insisted that the wider National Health Service (NHS) UK track and trace app would be in force by 1 June.
Prestedge is working with Dido Harding, former chief executive of TalkTalk, who heads the ‘test and trace’ programme, according to the FT.
The UK government insisted on working on its own track and trace app as opposed to utilising technology used in New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. However, this route did not work well. The government later admitted that the app was flawed, and it would switch to a model being developed by tech giants Apple and Google on 18 June.
There is still no working NHS track and trace app available in the UK as of 3 July. France, Germany and India have since rolled out their track and trace apps.