Japan’s SBI to Target Blockchain, AI with New Fund

Japan’s SBI Holdings is creating a venture capital fund that will invest in AI and blockchain technologies. The vehicle, to be managed by SBI Investment, is looking to attract about $450 million.

Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings Inc is launching an artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain-oriented fund, which will be managed by its subsidiary SBI Investment. The SBI AI & Blockchain Fund is expected to reach its target of about 50 billion yen ($450 million) as soon as the end of this March. 

The company says that emerging technologies like blockchain and AI are in global use, most notably in the financial sector. However, this is not the only field where they can have a game-changing impact. SBI expects the two technologies to be implemented in the medical, public, and real estate sectors, among others. The Japanese company plans to capitalize on the opportunity, using the AI & Blockchain Fund to invest in ventures that focus on relevant businesses. 

SBI Investment has been planning the launch since October last year, and the fund’s investment resources have reached 20 billion yen as of January 2018. 

The company will seek additional investments from local entities such as regional banks, credit associations, pension funds, and insurers to reach its funding target. In total, SBI Investment hopes to attract about 50 local and foreign financial institutions, way more than the 28 regional companies and institutional investors that SBI managed to bring for its previous fintech fund. 

Part of SBI Group, SBI Holdings has already successfully managed a fintech fund since December 2015. This fund has become the largest one in Japan, raising 30 billion yen. Now the company hopes to do even better with the AI & Blockchain Fund. 

SBI Holdings is one of the most active companies in Japan when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Late in October, it teamed up with Wirex to build a cryptocurrency payment card denominated in yen. 

This month, SBI Group partnered China’s Huobi to create two crypto exchanges that should be launched in the current quarter.