Santander compensates customers after requiring smartphones for online banking

By Amelia Isaacs on Friday 18 March 2022

Digital Banking

Santander has paid customers hundreds of pounds in compensation after requiring them to use mobile phones to access their online banking.

Santander compensates customers after requiring smartphones for online banking
Image source: Mtaylor848/CC BY-SA 4.0.

Global retail bank Santander has been forced to pay customers hundreds of pounds in compensation after making it almost impossible to access online banking without a smartphone.

Customers complained of discrimination, both against the elderly and those with disabilities, after the bank made changes to protect against fraud in 2019.

The changes required customers to confirm their identity, either via text messages or the bank’s mobile app, before they could log on to their account or make some payments.

Anyone without a mobile phone, therefore, was left stuck.

Customers were told they had to go into a branch or call up in order to get around these new changes.

Santander closed over 100 branches last year after reporting that branch transactions fell by 33 per cent over the two years before the pandemic, and a further 50 per cent in 2020.

Unlike other banks, Santander did not initially offer customers the option to verify their identity in other ways, such as over email or via a landline.

This left anyone who was unable to go into a physical branch or use a mobile phone with few options.

Customers took their complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, who concluded the policies were unfair.

One customer with a disability won £600 from Santander as he relied on online banking due to being housebound and unable to use a mobile as he lived in an area with bad signal, The Telegraph reported

Others are still waiting for the outcome of their complaints.

Since the complaints were made, Santander has changed its policies to allow customers to verify themselves via passcodes sent over emails, and no longer requires this to be done via text or an app.

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