Spanish bank BBVA is pumping $50 million into an artificial intelligence-focused investment fund run by the former president of Google China.
Led by Kai-Fu Lee for Chinese VC Sinovation Ventures, the fund says that it has about $500 million to invest in early-stage firms working in areas such as internet consumption, B2B and education, but with a special focus on AI.
With AI becoming increasingly important in banking, BBVA says that its investment will give it insight and access to the latest innovations coming out of the Chinese market. The move could also prove a financial winner, giving the bank the potential to co-invest in Chinese AI startups, possibly leading to strong returns.
Carlos Torres Vila, CEO, BBVA, says: "By investing into the Sinovation Fund IV, we are ensuring we can learn from and build connections with some of the most promising AI solutions being built anywhere on the planet. Just as importantly, we can do it via a high-performing investment platform with a strong return profile."
BBVA took the then unusual step of launching its own $100 million fintech fund in 2013 but has since taken a more hands off approach, replacing it with an independently managed outfit called Propel Venture Partners.Want to learn more about how AI is upending traditional financial services? Register for Finextra's NextGen Banking London: the AI Revolution conference and hear how some of Europe's top banks are using the technology to radically improve efficiency, risk management and regulatory compliance, and customer service.