Sberbank of Russia has announced that they are setting up a $100 million venture fund to invest in promising fintech start-up companies. The plan is to increase the fund to a possible $700 million over three years. Details of the fund were disclosed by the bank’s head of innovation, Mircea Mihaescu, in an interview with a local Russian investment magazine.
This follows the recent launch of an R&D centre and ‘Technology Innovation Council’ approximately 6 months ago, with the goal of exploring the use of new technology for banks
According to Mihaescu, the R&D unit is currently involved in 20 projects across the fields of big data, cloud computing, mobile payments and personalised online banking.
Sberbank is also exploring the use of artificial intelligence, natural language processing for answering customer queries on its Website, and describes mobile payments as a “priority” area of investment. Sberbank is currently piloting the use of both stickers and microSD cards for transforming mobile handsets into NFC-enabled payment devices.
The establishment of the investment fund underwrites the focus of the bank to get in on the ground floor of promising Internet-based technologies that could re-invent banking. It is currently working with US-based card tech firm Dynamics, starting with an initial order of 300-500 of the firm’s programmable mag-stripe cards.
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