Heralding an intensification of
competition in the UK’s payments industry Spanish banking group
Santander and US payments processor Elavon have formed an alliance
with the unequivocal objective to become one of the leading players
in the UK merchant acquiring market.

Underscoring this objective Steve Pateman, Santander’s head of
corporate and commercial banking, commented: “Santander aims to
become the best commercial bank in the UK.”

Santander operates three retail banking units in the UK – Abbey,
Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley – which will be
rebranded as Santander during 2010 and Santander Corporate

For Elavon, a wholly owned subsidiary of the US’ sixth-largest
commercial bank US Bancorp, entry into the UK payments market
expands on existing operations serving a total of over 1 million
merchants in the US, Europe, Canada and Puerto Rico. Elavon’s
payment solutions include credit and debit card processing,
electronic cheque services, gift cards, dynamic currency
conversion, multi-currency support and cross-border

Santander’s move into the UK’s merchant acquiring market comes at a
time when small to medium-sized merchants are willing and eager to
consider an alternative service supplier, indicates a recent study
by research and advisory firm East & Partners (E&P).

According to E&P, based on a survey of 505 merchants with
annual turnovers of from £2 million ($3.3 million) to £50 million,
one in five will look to change their current acquirer during the
next six months with the primary reason cited as being
dissatisfaction with service.