Skolkovo resident startup CardsMobile, the creator of the Koshelek (Wallet) mobile app, has raised investment from Alfa Bank in exchange for a 25 percent stake in the fintech startup, the bank announced Monday in a press release.
Photo: CardsMobile COO and co-founder Filipp Shubin (left) receiving the 2017 best fintech startup award. Photo: Sk.ru.
The investment round – the value of which was not disclosed – will be used to further develop the mobile app, which stores digital versions of all of the user’s bank, transport and discount cards, meaning there is no longer any need to carry them all around.
“The new investment round will allow the company to significantly increase its growth rate and share of the market that, as an independent aggregator, is so essential for business,” Kirill Gorynya, director general of CardsMobile, was cited as saying in the press release.
The main mission of the company, which has been a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster since 2015, remains to eliminate the need for people to carry any plastic cards at all in their wallet, said Gorynya, whose company earlier raised investment from Russia’s Lanit Ventures in 2016.
“With the appearance in our group of investors of another major Russian brand, we are fully confirming our course to provide a reliable, secure, transparent and certified service to clients from diverse sectors of business: retail and service enterprises, manufacturers, banks, mobile network operators and transport companies. Users of the Wallet app can be confident that their interests are always our first priority,” said Gorynya.
As well as providing CardsMobile with financial resources to develop the Wallet app, Alfa Bank – Russia’s biggest private commercial bank – also plans to offer support at an operational level to accelerate CardsMobile’s growth, the statement said.
“We believe that the future lies in digital, and a modern bank should correspond to that 100 percent and not be restricted to only offering financial services,” Michael Tuch, head of retail business at Alfa Bank, was quoted as saying in the press release.
“That’s why Alfa Bank is actively developing digital services that offer our clients maximum opportunities while requiring minimum effort and time. Several million of our clients regularly make purchases in their favourite stores, and working with Wallet will give us an additional opportunity to increase the advantages for our client, such as using cashback cards. Wallet makes life easier for people, and enables users to learn about discounts and special offers first, while carrying around fewer plastic cards.”
The Wallet app has already been used to digitalise more than 30 million plastic cards issued by retail chains across the country, from Sportmaster, Nike and Samsung to Rive Gauche, O’Kei and M.Video. The app, which won the best fintech startup award at last year’s Startup of the Year awards, has been downloaded onto more than 5 million devices across Russia. To add a card to their electronic wallet, the user simply takes a photo of it, which is then recognized by the app using artificial intelligence.
Pavel Novikov, head of the Skolkovo Foundation’s blockchain centre, said the foundation was delighted that the country’s biggest private bank was actively cooperating with Skolkovo residents.
“The Wallet app isn’t just a unique technology project, it’s also a new communication channel for companies with their end users under the B2B2C model,” he told Sk.ru.
“Alfa Bank’s investment in CardsMobile is on the one hand a logical continuation of the companies’ cooperation, and on the other, further confirmation of the effectiveness of the Skolkovo Foundation’s support mechanisms. We help innovative companies to swiftly find clients and partners in particular industries to generate a profit. CardsMobile has actively used our commercialization service since 2017,” added Novikov.