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SBI launches Rs 200 crore fund to invest in fintech startups

In order to fund start-ups in the financial technology (fintech) space, country’s largest lender SBI has set up a Rs 200 crore fund.SBI-AV“This fund shall consider assistance of up to Rs 3 crore to an Indian registered company for promoting their business innovations using IT in India for banking and related technology,” SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said at a CII event here on June 16.

The ‘IT Innovation Start-up Fund’ will have corpus of Rs 200 crore, she said. The announcement comes against the backdrop of a greater thrust from the Centre on developing the start-up ecosystem. With digital technology making greater in-roads into banking, majority of financial institutions have upped their engagement to spot startups in the fintech space.

Bhattacharya said the bank has also formed a mentoring team to assist start-ups. It will support, monitor and make a report on the progress and the utilisation of the funds by the venture.

The team will facilitate and guide business, extending help in various areas including additional funding requirement, she said, adding that it will also give external legal and financial assistance as and when required. The team may have one or more external technical experts.

Bhattacharya said the bank has opened a start-up branch called InCube in Bengaluru in January. It functions as a single point of contact for the start-up account holders for their various banking and financial advisory related requirements.

“This branch is not giving actual funding. It handholds start-ups to create their business plans, finds out their legal requirements, help them with compliance and registration,” she said, adding that it has signed up 200 clients so far.

Bhattacharya said the bank is looking at cross-selling through collaboration with the fintech companies as it provides a great opportunity.

“It is not only the fintechs that are coming into banking, but banking can also benefit from fintech… There may be one or two areas where they can give us competition, but overall, there could be several areas where they can help cross-sell banks’ products,” she added.

She further said with the growing significance and interactions of fintech in the financial services space, there needs to be in place a suitable regulatory framework to address the associated risks, like technology risks, cyber- security risk, data-theft risk…cross-linkages and source of funds, among others.

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