SBI targets investments of $450 million for new AI and blockchain fund

Japan’s SBI Holdings announced that group company SBI Investment is creating the SBI AI & Blockchain Fund, a Venture Capital Fund (SBI AI & Blockchain LPS) in order to invest in promising companies in AI and blockchain technology.

In December 2015, SBI Investment set up a FinTech Fund, endeavoring to make investments in promising FinTech companies. Since then, the SBI FinTech fund has steadily conducted investment activities in response to the rising expectations for the future of blockchain, as well as the emergence of many more promising venture companies.

SBI said that while new technologies such as AI and blockchain are attracting global attention in the financial sector, they are also expected to be used in various other sectors, such as the medical, real estate and public sectors. As a result, SBI decided to set up this fund as a successor to the FinTech fund established in 2015.

Having been considering starting the new fund since around October 2017, SBI decided to start making investments reaching about JPY 20 billion this month to meet strong requests from its existing FinTech fund investors, domestic and overseas financial institutions, corporations, and institutional investors.

The new fund plans to solicit additional investments from regional financial institutions (e.g. regional banks and credit associations) and institutional investors (e.g. life and non-life insurers, pension funds), and to increase the fund size to the JPY 50 billion level as soon as possible. In particular, regional financial institutions have successively expressed their intentions to make investments. The number of those financial institutions is expected to significantly exceed 28 (the number of regional financial institutions that have invested in the FinTech Fund).

Like the FinTech fund, the blockchain fund will support open innovation between investors and investee companies, increase the value of investee companies, and actively help investors implement and use new technologies. Through these activities, SBI Investment endeavors to help investee companies and investors enhance the services they provide and eventually contribute to the growth and development of new industries. After years of actively investing in venture companies in growth fields, such as the IT, mobile, and bio-life science sectors, as well as FinTech, the SBI Group believes they are equipped for another challenge from a wealth of experience from investing in those companies and supporting their development.

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