Defying sanctions, Russia’s Sberbank adds smart TVs to technology offering

Russia’s top lender Sberbank, with its international operations heavily compromised by Western sanctions against Moscow over events in Ukraine, on Tuesday unveiled a range of smart TVs, the latest addition to its technology arsenal.

Sberbank has been developing its non-financial businesses, such as e-commerce, technology and cloud services, in an attempt to combat shrinking margins, a process it looks determined to continue even as sanctions shutter its operations elsewhere.

The lender quit almost all its European markets earlier this month, blaming big cash outflows and threats to its staff and property, a move that seemed inevitable after the European Central Bank ordered the closure of its European arm.

In partnership with electronics retailer M.Video, Sberbank has started selling the televisions, which use the bank’s virtual assistant software and offer services such as online streaming and food delivery from its digital ecosystem.

Sberbank does not disclose how much it spends on technology, but the bank has previously told Reuters it is a huge investment and one that it has increased since it shifted its strategy to focus more on technology devices and solutions.

Majority owned by Russia’s government, Sberbank’s share price has plummeted since Russia began its “special military operation” in Ukraine and Western nations imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s financial sector.

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