Originally founded in 1841, financial services organization Sberbank has seen a lot of change over the 175 years it’s been in business. And this week the bank is embracing more change by taking a leap into the blockchain.
The Russian bank, along with Hyperledger’s founding organization, the Linux Foundation, have signed a deal for the bank to participate in the Hyperledger Project. A group of Sberbank’s 9,000 developers have formed a dedicated team to work with the nonprofit blockchain initiative. The project was created to advance blockchain technology by identifying aspects for a cross-industry standard that will change the way transactions are conducted.
Lev Khasis, first deputy chairman of Sberbank’s executive board, anticipates the open source blockchain platform will help Sberbank to “access international expertise and cutting-edge blockchain developments.” Khasis also explained that the bank’s use of the blockchain will span multiple use cases, including real estate, and that it already has plans to go live with one use case in the next 12 months.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Sberbank’s innovative side. In the middle of the Pokemon Go epidemic this summer, the bank, which is the biggest life insurance provider in Russia, announced it will offer free accident insurance for distracted Pokemon Go players. Sberbank also set up a mobile virtual network operator subsidiary to provide telco services to customers.
At FinovateSpring 2016 Sberbank launched Sberbank Messenger to expand beyond what customers typically expect their bank to offer. The messenger platform, which is built on top of the Sberbank digital ecosystem, enables consumers to chat and seamlessly send money to one another. It also allows businesses to interact with consumers using both human respondents and chatbots, and enables consumers to purchase goods and services without leaving the chat dialogue.
The bank has 270,000 employees and serves more than 110 million clients, equivalent to 70% of Russia’s population, through 17,000 branches. At the Global Finance Awards for Central and Eastern Europe, Sberbank won four categories, Best in Mobile Banking, Best Bill Payment & Presentment, and Best SMS/Text Banking.