Santander names Petri Nikkilä as new Openbank CEO
Santander has hired former ING exec Petri Nikkilä as the new CEO of its digital bank offering Openbank, effective from May.
As CEO, the group says Nikkilä will “lead the Openbank business in its current markets and continue to promote its international expansion”.
Openbank initially launched in Spain in 1995 as a telephone-based bank, but has since expanded its services to include insurance, deposits and app-based account services, among others.
It first began its expansion efforts in 2019 when it extended its services to Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands. The digital bank also launched in Argentina in 2019 in an attempt to tap the Latin American market.
Nikkilä has also been appointed as the head of the non-auto consumer business and the buy now, pay later (BNPL) business of the group’s Digital Consumer Bank unit.
Santander launched its Digital Consumer Bank unit in 2020 by combining Santander Consumer Finance (SCF), which provides car loans, consumer loans and credit cards throughout 16 markets in Europe, with Openbank.
Reporting to Daniel Barriuso, head of retail and commercial banking, and José Luis de Mora, head of Digital Consumer Bank, Nikkilä will succeed Ezequiel Szafir as the CEO of Openbank following his departure from the role in December after a nine-year tenure. Nikkilä is also due to join the boards of both SCF and Openbank, subject to regulatory approval.
Nikkilä will join Santander directly from ING, where he is currently serving as head of global retail transformation following a three-year stint as head of retail banking for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. His professional experience also extends to Nordea, HSBC and Unilever, where he led the Dutch banking corporation’s operations in Africa, Turkey and the Middle East.
Ana Botín, executive chair of Santander, says Nikkilä will bring “a deep knowledge of financial services and a broad strategic vision in the consumer sector” to his new role, and describes Openbank’s technology as “central to the group’s transformation”.