Russian state-controlled lender Sberbank will buy 25% of PayZakat, an online platform that collects charity for Muslims in need, the bank announced on Tuesday, according to VC.ru.
Zakat is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer in importance. Global zakat collections reach $500 billion a year.
PayZakat allows its users to calculate the contribution amount, and channel it to the charity of their choice, with the help of chat bots integrated into the social networks, as well as to receive status updates on the contribution, Intellinews wrote.
Sberbank sees global and universal potential for PayZakat, the start-up that was the first winner of the bank’s corporate accelerator Sber#Up for its own employees.
Previously in 2017 the bank considered establishing an Islamic Finance unit and proposing regulatory changes that would make running sharia-compliant deals in Russia possible. There are about 20mn Muslims among Russian population of 145mn.
Sberbank is at the forefront of Russian digital development, having adopted an ambitious digitally-driven strategy and preparing to launch its Sber digital ecosystem in short- to medium-term.
The bank was also the anchor organizer of a recent meeting with the President Vladimir Putin on AI development, which was paired with an establishment of a $2 billion AI investment fund by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).