Singapore: DBS acquires minority stake in financial AI startup Kasisto

Visual of Kasisto homepage. April 2016.

Consumer banking startup venture Kasisto, which employs artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance retail and consumer banking, has secured investment from Singapore-based financial services major DBS Bank.

Financial terms of the DBS investment are undisclosed, though it was described as a ‘strategic investment’ by DBS.

To date, Kasisto, set up in 2014, has secured $2.25 million in seed funding from New York AngelsTwo Sigma Investments and Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, among others, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

Additionally, its KAI platform powers the virtual assistant in the mobile-only Digibank service launched by DBS in India. The Kasisto investment and Digibank launch are part of a push by DBS to leverage on the current growth in financial technology (fintech) impacting the financial sector globally. The startup is led by the founding team of Zor Gorelov (CEO), Sasha Caskey and Dror Oren.

Kasisto, a spinoff of SRI, provides a conversational AI system that functions as a virtual personal assistant, aimed at enabling banks to engage their customers by quickly performing complex transactions on mobile devices through speech, text and touch. The venture intends to expand its applications to areas beyond the financial services sector.

Also Read: DBS commits S$10m to Singapore’s startup ecosystem

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“DBS is at the forefront of innovation in banking and a great example of the kind of massive change that is transforming the face of consumer banking. It’s exciting to work with them on services designed for a new generation of banking consumers who think differently about money and expect a very different set of capabilities from their banks,” commented Gorolev.

The KAI virtual assistants in digibank are designed to anticipate and answer thousands of customer questions, as well as assist customers perform real-time banking transactions.

Digibank – which speaks to what Infosys co-founder and futurist Nandan Nilekani calls the “WhatsApp moment in banking ” –  was officially unveiled in India in today. It is meant to operate as a completely paperless, signatureless and branchless experience, with the aim of letting customers open an account quickly and effortlessly using just their Aadhaar, a biometrics-enabled ID, at any of DBS’ partner network of cafes across India.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta shared: “With the advent of technology, banking as we know it is being completely transformed. digibank places an entire bank in our customers’ hands, freeing up their valuable time, and allowing them to ‘Live More, Bank Less.’ For DBS, digibank is also a potential gamechanger, enabling us to go beyond the confines of a brick and mortar network to extend our reach in huge geographies like India.”

Also Read: Building engines of innovation within DBS:Neal Cross

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.