Having to take the car and go to another town to do something as everyday as withdrawing money from the ATM. This is one of the great problems that emptied Spain is facing and one that affects more than half of the Spanish towns: 4,109 out of 8,131 municipalities.
And this has been one of the challenges that Banco Santander has recently solved within the framework of its financial inclusion strategy. A solution achieved thanks to the alliance with Correos, whose capillarity allows it to reach all Spanish homes, no matter how remote.
From the first quarter of 2021, postmen will be able to deliver money to homes and residents in that 75% of municipalities that do not have a Banco Santander branch, but do have a Post Office, They will be able to make withdrawals and cash deposits in the latter completely free of charge.
For 66% of the people who until now had to leave town to access their money, this initiative will change their day.
Financial inclusion and empowerment is one of the lines of action on which Santander focuses its responsible banking strategy.
Lara de Mesa, Global Director of Responsible Banking, summarizes these initiatives, explaining that “one of our challenges is to contribute to inclusive and sustainable growth.
We want to help people and companies to progress; we want to give access to financial services, financing, education and training to as much of the population as possible ”.
The bank committed a year ago, along with 130 other financial entities around the world, to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations through the Principles of Responsible Banking.
Some of the challenges assumed by Banco Santander are to achieve the financial empowerment of 10 million people between 2019 and 2025, facilitate the mobilization of 120,000 million euros in green financing in the same period or help four million people through programs of social action between 2019 and 2021, to which 715 million have already been allocated since 2002.
The ‘Finances for mortals’ program aims to bring finances closer to the youngest and most vulnerable groups
De Mesa explains the motivations behind these initiatives: “Our employees want us to be a bank with a purpose, our clients increasingly demand responsible business solutions from us, our investors are paying increasing attention to the responsible banking agenda. , just like supervisors and regulators, and the communities in which we are present are facing challenges to which Santander has to contribute solutions ”.
In 2019, the initiatives launched by the entity in the field of financial inclusion empowered two million people around the world, helping the most disadvantaged to access basic financial services, offering specific products tailored to those who had low income or financial difficulties, and fostering resilience through financial education.
In the latter case, more than 580,000 people benefited from financial education programs in 2019 alone.
A year after that agreement on the SDGs, the pandemic has marked the entity’s agenda, which has focused its efforts on responding to the immediate problems of people and companies, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups.
In Spain, one of the most successful financial education programs is Finance for mortals , recognized as one of the main in the country in this area, both by the Bank of Spain and by the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), with which is intended to bring finances to all audiences, with special emphasis on the financially most vulnerable groups.
Another of the initiatives promoted by the entity, together with the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) is Your finances, your future , which helps young people between 13 and 15 years old to face financial decisions.
But the commitment to education goes further and is something that is part of Banco Santander’s DNA.
The entity maintains a firm commitment to higher education for more than 20 years and, in response to the urgency and needs generated by the covid-19 crisis, has mobilized close to 30 million euros from its patronage in education to support students with financial difficulties, alleviate the digital divide and accompany universities in their digitization, develop programs to boost the employability of young people in the face of current labor market demands and finance university research projects to provide concrete solutions to the coronavirus.
The most prominent initiative has been the creation of the Supera Covid-19 Fund, in collaboration with Crue Universidades Españolas and CSIC, which has allocated 8.5 million euros to different projects to face the disease and its social impact, in addition to providing solutions for connectivity, webcams and computers to more than 15,000 university students in an unfavorable economic situation to continue with their studies.
During 2021, the residents of 75% of municipalities without branches will be able to operate in their Post offices
Social Action programs have advanced in the same direction, with dozens of projects aimed at helping the most vulnerable groups grouped under the Santander All slogan . Together. Now , which includes all the initiatives launched to alleviate the effects of the health crisis.
Among them is the Together Solidarity Fund , which has allocated more than 54 million to the fight against the disease and its consequences. Additionally, Santander has contributed another 16 million euros by redirecting funds from certain projects to the protection of those vulnerable groups most affected by the disease in several countries.
The way in which Banco Santander has decided to contribute to the SDGs related to the environment and the fight for a green economy is twofold. On the one hand, in the financial aspect: “We want to accompany our clients in their transition towards a low-carbon economy”, explains Lara De Mesa, global director of Responsible Banking.
On the other, the reduction of the environmental footprint of the entity itself. For the first of these challenges, it has been proposed to finance or facilitate the mobilization of 120,000 million euros between 2019 and 2025 and 220,000 million euros until 2030 to combat climate change, aligning its portfolio with the ecological economy.
Already in 2019, the entity mobilized 19,000 million euros in green financing, which made it a world leader in renewable energy financing.
In terms of reducing its environmental footprint, the strategy is focusing on reducing CO2 emissions through energy efficiency, renewable energy and offsetting other emissions.
The objective is that by 2025 100% of its electricity comes from renewable sources and that in the short term the use of unnecessary single-use plastic in its offices and buildings will be eliminated, in addition to committing to being, for the first time, carbon neutral in 2020, offsetting all emissions generated by its own operations.