PagoFX: Helping Santander build a digital business

PagoFX is a Santander-backed, standalone international money transfer app. Currently available in the UK but with ambitious global growth plans, it offers customers low-cost money transfers with bank-level security supported by multi-channel customer service. Instrumental in its development, Red Badger worked with PagoFX to design, build and launch the best in class payments service.


  • Rapid end-to-end product development in regulated financial sector
  • Leveraged user testing across Europe to design best-in-class customer experience
  • Architected long-term technical foundation priming PagoFX for future success
  • 4.9 * rating on App Store

Finding the right product-market fit

PagoFX is part of Santander’s 4-year digital transformation program, a program which has been pledged a staggering €20 billion investment. Identifying a gap in the international payments market, PagoFX is designed to combine the best of both worlds: the trust and security of a large bank with the single-minded customer focus of an industry disruptor. Santander believes that even with the flux of new market entrants, there is a clear space for the service.

The challenge

Sending money overseas today can be a painful experience. No clear verification process, no acknowledgement that funds received and no oversight as to whether the money even arrived. Plus you have to pay for the privilege. PagoFX’s key selling points are giving back control to the customer while being transparent, with fair pricing and with the trust that comes from the backing of a world-renowned bank.

Red Badger’s job was to validate assumptions of customer challenges, the problem the service was solving and provide PagoFX product owners a clear understanding of which problems to solve first.

We designed a minimum desirable product - a limited internal pilot launch of an iOS application with full customer onboarding journey and end-to-end international payment - which captured funds, FX hedging and settlement.

Get out of the building and speak to customers

Ahead of any concrete decisions, it was critical to collect real customer feedback. Hidden fees, long delivery times and poor payment visibility were all cited as problems using traditional banks to make international money transfers. This information crystallised the problems to solve and the broad swathes of people experiencing them.

User onboarding was tackled first, working closely with business, legal and tech teams to create a journey which delivered the security customers demanded while meeting the quality requirements of the new service. The approach formulated tackling this challenge gave a framework to define the payments journey, ensuring money was safe and the process transparent.

Post it with ideas

Start-up thinking

To facilitate lean and agile operations, the PagoFX team was set up to operate independently of the larger bank’s operations. The team has autonomy to make product and technology decisions, experimenting safely in isolation.

To rapidly accelerate time to market for the new service, the initial minimum desirable product was built using 3rd party services for some of the key functionalities with the longer-term strategy to migrate onto Santander platforms where appropriate.

The first step towards an end-to-end product was to produce a pilot proving the key features needed - customer registration, the “Know Your Customer”(KYC) verification process, fund acquisition from customer, currency exchange and sending money to the recipient. A series of prototypes were built to explore the technical feasibility of early product ideas (e.g. processing ApplePay payments, NFC scanning of biometric information from ID documents on Android).

The team set themselves an ambitious goal of making an international payment from the app within four months. This involved setting up brand new cloud infrastructure, building the iOS app itself, designing and building the payments platform powering it and selecting and integrating 3rd party services. Despite the size of the challenge, the team achieved its goal in time.

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Building a licensed payment provider

Santander established a separate legal entity for PagoFX and submitted an application for a payments license to UK and EU regulators. Red Badger provided technology support covering cloud architecture, processing sensitive information and general information security controls.

The pilot’s success pushed the project forward to a full launch in the UK, followed by the EU. While the pilot product was an end-to-end journey, the full scope of work for public launch was significantly larger and more complex.

Scaling delivery

To achieve the larger scale launch, the project expanded to four parallel Red Badger teams. The additional teams worked on:

  • The Android application - a key platform to reach EU customers
  • A staff facing customer and payment operations portal - critical to enable operators to monitor customer onboarding and payments processing and provide additional support for any potential financial crime
  • The accounting ledger system - required to keep track of the precise movements of funds during online payment processing

Continuous learning

With key user journeys defined, regular lab-style usability testing was conducted to evaluate performance and highlight any key usability issues. The process was designed to be collaborative, allowing stakeholders to and team members to build user empathy - a very important element of delivering exemplary customer experiences.

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From a project to a sustainable business

A core objective of the project was to ensure PagoFX’s team could operate the service independently and continue to scale the product into new markets. A clear roadmap was devised to incorporate customer desires and feedback to fuel development, improve the experience and expand the customer base.

In under 18 months, Red Badger helped PagoFX go from prototype to a globally rolled out product. PagoFX now has a solid foundation to build on for the future and a best-in-class payments platform enabling customers to send money abroad quickly and safely.

We can help you

  • Create & validate new ideas
  • Deliver great quality products & services, fast
  • Be bold with technology
  • Be more customer centric
  • Improve efficiency with lean practices
  • Build capability & confidence
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