Santander and Telefónica join forces to use 5G in remote banking

18 June 2019

Mobile banking

Santander and Telefónica has joined together to launch an innovation project centred on how 5G can enhance the banking sector.

The Spanish telecommunications firm, best known in the UK for being the parent company of O2, has collaborated with Santander to create a 5G experience between two bank branches, encompassing three specific use cases. The branches located in the city of Alcobendas near Madrid are the first banking offices to be connected by 5G in Europe, and it's a concept that could potentially revolutionise banking.

"The new technology will allow us to have a better connectivity and faster speed of response in transactions and to offer all our customers, both final users and companies, the best experience and the best possible solutions," said Rami Aboukhair, CEO of Santander Spain.

The project comprises of three use cases:

  • 4K videoconferencing between two bank branches. 5G connectivity ensures an ultra-high resolution image (4096x2160) and natural motion due to its zero delay and 30 frames per second output.
  • 5G storage via a low latency cloud storage solution based on Hitachi Content Platform Anywhere Edge, previously embedded on Telefónica's edge computing infrastructure.
  • Virtual visits to co-working spaces between the two locations, utilising virtual reality, 360 video and edge computing technologies so that customers can remotely visit co-working spaces such as the Santander Work Café branch, located at the Santander banking office in Madrid.

Making banks more accessible

Much has been touted about how Financial Technology (also known as FinTech ) will change how we deal with financial services, and this appears to be the natural next step. The idea behind the plan is that it enables banks to provide new services in a more efficient and customer-friendly manner. Mobile offices could be deployed at big events such as festivals or fairs, as well as during emergency scenarios, without the need for a permanent physical location.

"The initiative with Santander Spain is the result of the collaboration with our corporate customers to ensure that 5G technology is deployed in a way that fully meets their needs, prioritizing the development of the most demanded capacities. With initiatives like this we also ensure the early adoption of 5G and the positive impact on the Spanish industrial network," explained Emilio Gayo, CEO of Telefónica Spain.

The 5G network is provided by ZTE and includes the radio, core network, and terminals. It's based on Stand Alone mode, so it creates an end-to-end 5G network architecture that doesn't require conventional LTE support.

What does that mean for the average consumer? Well, the idea of 'pop-up' banks is a particularly compelling one for those in remote areas that don't have easy access to physical services. Being able to 'meet' with someone via videoconferencing rather than having to travel for miles is appealing. At a simpler level, it could also serve well as a backup system for preserving the same features and services that are available via the fixed network that banks use.

It's another step in 5G potentially changing the landscape for how we use technology in our daily lives.

Tech/games journalist with 10 years of experience.

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