Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) today officially announced that it will invest in high-tech companies with a financial orientation (fintech) at the Fintec TLV - Challenges and Opportunities conference.
Bank Hapoalim chairman Yair Seroussi said, "We're launching an Israeli win-win project, with no government aid, in order to boost the chances of success of Israeli fintech start-ups. Our venture will identify companies with products relevant to the bank's success. These companies will be able to carry out pilots at the bank, and Poalim Capital Markets - Investment Bank Ltd. can make direct investments in them. For us, the objective is to have a dialogue with innovative ideas, locate products that can move us forward, and create a competitive edge. It is not essential, but it would definitely do no harm, if we profit directly from the investments in the companies."
Seroussi added, "The willingness of Israel's financial industry, led by the banks, to adopt and foster technological innovations helps the development of fintech. In the world, fintech is developing rapidly, partly because of major changes in the global payments infrastructure, with the switch from paper to electronics, the decline in the use of cash and checks, and the increasing use of credit cards and online transfers, and expanded use of mobile internet.
"Bank Hapoalim expects to focus on early-stage companies, following or together with investments by leading venture capital funds. The bank's fund will invest in 15-20 ventures at different development stages, and will likely invest $2-3 million per company over a 7-10 year period."
Poalim Capital Markets CEO Amir Aviv will be responsible for the equity investments. Bank Hapoalim head of corporate strategy Ari Pinto and head of IT Zvi Naggan, a former Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) executive, will oversee the venture for the bank.
Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Kenan said, "We've already met with 30 ventures at various stages of technology and business development, and we've identified interesting ideas and ventures that we're interested in working together with and to test the technology they are offering. The companies winning the bank's support and advice during development will be exposed to the world of the end users - customers. For its part, the bank will be exposed to new technologies that will serve it in its day-to-day operations, and can fairly easily serve as a beta site for testing pilots of the innovative technologies."
Naggan said, "Technology can differentiate the bank and win customers. Technology is at the spearhead of banking, and our investment in companies will enable them to raise capital.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 7, 2012
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