(English) Sberbank, the state-controlled financial giant, has completed the acquisition of a 51% stake in Speech Technology Center (STC). Digital Horizon, a VC and business incubation firm with offices in Moscow and Tel Aviv, is also acquiring a minority stake in STC.
Gazprombank, which has sold a part of its shares, remain a strategic shareholder in STC. Other details of the deal have not been disclosed.
Founded in St. Petersburg in 1990, STCdevelops voice and facial biometric systems and solutions in the field of professional data processing and machine learning. Its products are sold in more than 70 countries, including the USA, Canada, Latin American and the Middle East. Its main competitors on the global market are Nuance, NEC and Agnitio.
In Russia, STC’s technology is used by such major corporations as Gazprombank, Rostelecom, Russian Railways Sberbank, Vimpelcom and VTB.
Backed by two for Russia’s largest financial institutions and leveraging its shareholders’ expertise, STC aims to “become a global leader [in biometric technologies] in the next few years,” stated the company’s CEO Dmitry Dyrmovsky.
The company expects the global market for biometrics to reach an estimated $40 billion by 2022.
Biometrics for banking ecosystem
“For Sberbank, this deal is a logical step on the road to digital transformation and the construction of a biometric platform for the bank’s growing ecosystem. In the future we will use this platform to create a range of services that will take interaction with clients to a completely new level in terms of ease and information security,” said Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of Sberbank’s Executive Board, in a earlier statement.
“In turn, Sberbank’s expertise in AI and Big Data will help STC broaden the use of speech technology in Russia and bring Russian technology to foreign markets,” he added.
Over the past decade, Sberbank has extended its activities to a variety of domains well beyond financial services, betting on new technologies to create a series of “ecosystems.” These new activities range from e-commerce, to food services, to digital healthcare, to CRM and neuroscience, to name just examples.