ICICI, an India's second largest bank in terms of assets, yesterday announced that it is open to investing in startups in the financial technology space even though it has not earmarked a dedicated entity for the investments.

"We are looking whether we should also invest in these companies and if there is an opportunity and if there is a compelling proposition, we will look at it," the bank’s Executive Director Rajiv Sabharwal told reporters here.

“We don’t have a dedicated fund line, but if there is an opportunity, we will look at it,” he said, adding the bank already works with startups either individually or through incubators.

In September last year, its smaller rival, South-based Federal Bank, announced a dedicated Rs 25 crore fund to invest in startups.

Since this January, when the government launched ‘Startup India’ initiative, a slew of lenders have announced plans for startups, even as the most successful startups have seen an erosion in valuations.

The lenders’ initiatives revolve around having dedicated branches and products with a focus on financial advisory for new-age entrepreneurs.

Market leader SBI launched a dedicated branch for startups in Bengaluru, which was followed by a similar move by private sector lender RBL Bank today.

Sabharwal said ICICI Bank is interested in technologies like big data and artificial intelligence, which will help it serve customers better.

The bank today declared winners of a mobile application developing contest and said over 2,000 entries were received.

The top honour went to Bengaluru-based startup employee Mohit Talwadiya for his ‘Conversational Banking’ app which will help do banking with ease of conversations based on natural language processing and artificial intelligence on multiple channels like chat and speech.

The bank will try to incorporate the winning innovations into its digital strategy.

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