Santander Launches Its First Smart Cards Through U.S. Higher Education Institutions

Sovereign Bank, N.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Santander Holdings USA and one of the 25 largest retail banks in the United States, announced today that it launched its first university smart cards in the United States. The cards will be provided as a result of agreements that Sovereign Bank, through its Santander Universities division, formalized with Wheelock College in Boston and Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Smart cards enable students, faculty and staff to access buildings, use school services, and for the first time, link directly to a Sovereign Bank account. Over 2,000 students, faculty and staff are expected to receive their cards as they return to campus for the start of the fall semester.

The ability to link identification cards to gain entry, utilize institutional services and conduct banking is an example of the growing trend reflecting consumer preferences prioritizing both secure access and convenience in making financial transactions.

Sovereign Bank’s desire to build strong relationships with U.S. higher education institutions and students through its Santander Universities arm, led to its commitment to provide these cards to local colleges and universities. Santander issued its first university smart card through its Santander Universities Global Division in 1996. It is now a leading issuer of bank-connected smart cards for higher education institutions having provided more than six million cards to university students around the world.

“We are thrilled to support Wheelock College and Mount Ida College in their efforts to enhance services by launching this new banking functionality for students, faculty and staff. The ability to link their ID cards to a Sovereign checking account will benefit smart card users by providing greater flexibility, safety and convenience when accessing their money to pay for books, supplies, meals and any of their other needs both on and off campus,” said Eduardo Garrido, Director of Santander Universities.We look forward to working with other colleges and universities to support their students and staff members in the same way.”

The banking functionality of the smart card is optional and must be activated before use at one of Sovereign Bank’s branches. Unlike a credit card or pre-paid debit card, the Santander University smart card can be linked to bank accounts, making it easier for students and their parents to seamlessly manage spending during the school year. The smart card can be used for both on and off campus services and provides users with the option to make either ATM or PIN-based debit transactions linked to a Sovereign checking account.

“We’re pleased to be one of the first colleges in New England to offer enhanced ID cards to students. Given their hectic schedules, we’re always looking for ways to make our students’ lives simpler and easier,” said Jackie Jenkins-Scott, President of Wheelock College.

Sovereign Bank offers a special student checking account that has no monthly fee and requires no minimum balance. Students, faculty and staff will be able to access cash or transfer money at no cost at all Sovereign ATMs. As part of the agreements with Wheelock College and Mount Ida College, Sovereign Bank ATMs will be installed in the student activity centers at each school.

Santander University smart cards have both chips and magnetic stripes, allowing the school to make timely enhancements to their security standards and services in a way that is easy for the school and the users.

“The convenience of the smart card was greatly attractive, but our principal concern was ensuring the personal and financial security of our students. With Santander Universities’ proven experience in providing secure access to universities and students around the world, it was able to meet the high security standards that are very important to us,” said Barry Brown, President of Mount Ida College.

Last month Sovereign Bank announced that it will change its name to Santander on October 17, 2013. The move will allow it to leverage the breadth, expertise and resources of one of the most well-respected, strongest financial institutions in the world with the local insights and relationships of a committed, community-focused bank. The Santander Universities smart card is an example of the expanded capabilities that the Bank will bring to the markets it serves.

About Santander Universities

Santander Universities is a philanthropic arm of the Santander Group that is focused on advancing the needs of society as a whole through higher education. It is a unique global initiative that distinguishes Santander from other banks and financial institutions. Santander Universities provides support to universities and colleges for teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student mobility and innovation. Since it was first established in 1996, Santander Universities, through its local affiliates, has forged long-term relationships with more than 1,040 universities around the world. In 2012, it supported more than 4,100 new initiatives and 37,000 scholarships globally. Santander Universities was first introduced in the United States in 2009 and now has collaboration agreements with 28 American universities and colleges. In 2012, Santander Universities funded over 950 scholarships and initiatives totaling over $8.5 million in the United States.

About Sovereign Bank

Sovereign Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of Santander Holdings USA, Inc., is among the 25 largest retail banks in the United States based on deposits, with principal presence in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Sovereign Bank is focused on serving the needs of its customers by providing high quality service and a comprehensive range of financial products and services through its more than 700 branches, over 2,000 ATMs, its online banking service, mobile app and through its nearly 9,000 team members. For more information about Sovereign, visit or call 877-768-2265. Member FDIC.

About Santander

Santander Holdings USA, Inc. is a member of the Santander Group and the parent company of Sovereign Bank, N.A. Santander Group is a network of diversified global retail and commercial banks offering a wide range of financial products. Founded in 1857, Santander Group has more than 102 million customers, approximately 14,600 branches – more than any other bank – and nearly 190,000 employees. Santander was recognized as 2012 Best Global Bank by Euromoney magazine, ranked second “Greenest Global Bank” in 2013 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and was named 2013 “Sustainable Global Bank of the Year – Transactions” by the Financial Times. For more information about Santander, visit