News Article

Banco Santander Seeks to Lessen COVID-19 Effects

By José Escobedo | Thu, 05/21/2020 - 15:54

Banco Santander announced the launching of “Santander X Tomorrow Challenge,” a 14-country global program that aims to gather entrepreneurs from diverse fields that seek to provide solutions to help lessen economic ramifications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bank officials say the challenge is divided into four categories: job creation, personal skills, reinvention and reopening of businesses and new business opportunities. The following countries participate in the program: Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the US, Spain, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, the UK and Uruguay.

“The coronavirus is changing our world but we can modify this change. It is time for entrepreneurs to bring to the table solutions to challenges. We launched the ‘Santander X Tomorrow Challenge’ because we believe in entrepreneurs’ ability to find solutions to today´s and tomorrow´s problems,” said Ana Botín, President of Banco Santander.

Entrepreneurs who want to register and contribute their ideas can do so until July 2 on the bank´s webpage: www.santanderx.com/tomorrowchallenge. Once they have submitted their applications, these will be evaluated by a 12-people jury of representatives of the entrepreneurial division and directives department of Banco Santander. They will choose the 20 best projects, which will be five per category. The selected 20 projects will be announced on July 16 and will receive €1 million (US$1.1 million) in funds and benefits, of which €20,000 (US$21,910) will be in cash. Winners will be taken on a roadshow with at least five investors per project that will facilitate access to financing. They will also receive technological and innovation advice from the MIT Innovation Initiative and have access to services and software licenses.

Santander Bank is planning to allocate €100 million (US$109.5 million) as part of its “global response plan” to the crisis generated by COVID-19. Of this, €30 million (US$32.8 million) are destined to the field of education and the funds will be managed by Santander Universidades, according to the bank. Bank officials report funds will be used for the development of vaccine/drug research projects and new diagnostic techniques, as well as the bank´s financial support to students who are in financial hardships and want to finish the schooling year. "Santander X wants to become the largest community of university entrepreneurs in the world by connecting entrepreneurs with valuable resources such as: talent, clients, and funds," reports the bank.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Banco Santander and BBVA have joined forces to develop and provide an app for Mexico City’s local government. The app is designed to provide users information about COVID-19. “The app is designed to inform users about the pandemic, enabling them to perform a COVID-19 self-diagnosis, prevent its spread, track people’s symptoms, avoid overcrowding in hospitals and provide reliable information to the authorities in real time,” according to the bank’s website. The app will also let users find the closest available hospital and obtain reliable and official government information regarding the pandemic.

Telcel will provide free access with no charge for the data used by the app. The app will connect to Locatel and the SMS service, reports the bank. Telcel officials say the company will be providing support for free text messaging to the official service by typing the words “covid19” to 51515. Users can also visit https://coronavirus.gob.mx/ for additional information. The COVID-19 CDMX app is available on Android and soon on iOS devices. Users can visit Google Play Store and download the app for free. The app includes an advice and FAQS section, according to the bank.  

Mexico City authorities will be in charge of managing the platform centrally in conjunction with the police command control. By doing this, the app gathers all the data generated in real time, providing online control and tracking to obtain a prompt response. Once information is obtained from the app, it is transferred to a platform where personal information will be managed and processed by the city’s official authorities to prevent, contain and mitigate the spread of the pandemic, according to the bank´s website.

Eduardo Osuna Osuna, Vice President and General Director of BBVA in Mexico, said in a statement: “It is time to gather our strength and remain strong as a country. This is why we are collecting human talent to develop this app, while being socially responsible and collaborating with the government so that more Mexicans can have prompt information delivered to them and have all the right tools to fight COVID-19.”  

Osuna said that leaders of the banking sector in BBVA have one objective in mind and that is to work for the well-being of all people. “This is why we will continue helping doctors and every Mexican citizen that requires help. It is time to be supportive of each other.” 

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Santander, BBVA, La Jornada,
José Escobedo José Escobedo Senior Editorial Manager