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© Reuters. A view from the office of Sberbank, Russia’s state-owned dominant lender and one of the country’s leading technology players, shows skyscrapers of the Moscow International Business Centre, also known as “Moskva-City”, in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2023. RE

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Decisions on 60% of corporate loans issued by Russia’s top lender Sberbank will be made using artificial intelligence (AI) by the end of this year, CEO German Gref said on Tuesday.

Gref has placed artificial intelligence and digital transformation at the heart of the bank’s strategy, as Russia adjusts to life without Western technology after sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

Sberbank is investing more than 450 billion roubles ($5 billion) in IT in 2024-2026 and expects profit generated from AI in that period to amount to about 800 billion roubles.

Sberbank’s lending decisions on consumer credit, mortgages and car loans are all being made by AI, and Gref said the figure for corporate lending was 40%.

“The figure should amount to 60% by the end of the year and by end-2026 the figure should reach 80%,” Gref said at a festival in Sochi.

Sberbank has more than 3 million corporate clients.

Sberbank wants to be seen as a technology company with a banking licence and is also working on producing hardware like microchips and servers. Gref said reliance on vendors had waned.

“We have created our own operating system,” he said. “All the computer equipment that is used within the bank is gradually being replaced by ours.”

President Vladimir Putin has hailed Sberbank for developing its own generative AI and language models and warned that the West should not be allowed to develop a monopoly in the AI sphere.

China and the United States are leading the development of AI, which many researchers and global leaders think will transform the world and revolutionise society in a way similar to the introduction of computers in the 20th century.

($1 = 91.0205 roubles)

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