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The Euromoney 25

Sberbank: Russia’s big state bank has outsize tech ambitions

Every bank wants to rebrand as a tech player, but few are aiming as high as Sberbank.

Herman Gref
Sberbank CEO Herman Gref

On December 1, attendees at Sberbank’s virtual investor day were treated to a short break in the presentation of the Russian market leader’s new three-year strategy.

Live footage of senior management enumerating the digital miracles to be achieved by 2023 gave way for five minutes to a film noir pastiche entitled ‘Black Swan’, in which a trench coat-clad, vodka-swilling super villain attempts to bring down the global financial system by introducing lockdown.

No traditional bank can stand against him – but Sberbank transforms into Sber, where everything can be done online, and the Black Swan is defeated.

In reality, Sberbank’s experience of the pandemic has been a little more nuanced. While the state-controlled lender did indeed see a surge in take-up of digital services, both on the banking side and within its rapidly expanding non-financial ecosystem, it was far from immune to the effects of Covid.

Hefty provisioning in the first quarter, which saw the bank’s coverage ratio jump from 89.3%

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