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Online US consumer banking is a game of give and take

Santander targets US retail deposits, as Goldman's Marcus finds online lending tougher than expected.


News in October that Santander plans to launch a nationwide deposit gathering platform in the US in the next 12 months has invited an inevitable comparison with Goldman Sachs’ move into the space.

The latter’s Marcus consumer lending arm has been offering retail deposit products in the US since 2016 and the UK since 2018.

Scott Powell, head of Santander US and Santander Consumer USA, has declared that the Spanish bank will offer better money market rates than its rivals for US deposits, which it is chasing to reduce its reliance on wholesale funding in the country.

That is pretty much a carbon copy of Goldman’s plan nearly three years ago.

Santander has one of the largest European footprints in the US, with a $145 billion balance sheet, but was the first lender to fail the Federal Reserve’s stress tests three years in a row in 2016.

Unlike Goldman, it already has an active US consumer lending business, which saw nearly 10% growth year on year last quarter, with $107 billion of loans and leases now outstanding. Given that it has just $64 billion of US deposits, the new platform makes a lot of sense.

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