Russia's largest bank, state-controlled Sberbank, will acquire 25 percent of the PayZakat platform that collects charity for Muslims in need.
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.
The PayZakat platform allows its users to calculate their contribution amount, and channel it to the charity of their choice. Chat bots integrated into social networks help with the process and provide status updates on the contribution.
PayZakat is a start-up that won Sberbank’s first Sber#Up corporate accelerator competition for its own employees, and the bank sees global and universal potential for the platform.
In 2017 Sberbank considered establishing an Islamic finance unit and proposing regulatory changes that would make running sharia-compliant deals in Russia possible. There are about 20 million Muslims among the Russian population of 145 million.
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 the short- to medium-term.
The bank was also the organiser of a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the development of AI, which led to the establishment of a $2 billion AI investment fund by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).