The biggest bank in Russia unveiled GigaChat, a rival to ChatGPT

The biggest bank in Russia unveiled GigaChat, a rival to ChatGPTSource: Shutterstock

Russia’s biggest bank unveils GigaChat, another rival to ChatGPT

  • Russian lender Sberbank released GigaChat, initially in an invite-only testing mode, joining the AI chatbot race.
  • Sberbank reckons GigaChat can communicate more intelligently in Russian than other foreign neural networks.

Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution that aims to become the country’s biggest technology company, has released GigaChat, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that rivals ChatGPT. The timely move, amidst the global AI arms race, comes when Russia’s dominant lender is planning one of the most significant reinventions in its 182-year history as it seeks to join the international pantheon of Big Tech.

Sberbank, which dropped the word “bank” from its logo in 2020 as part of its digital transformation drive, has invested in everything from cloud services to driverless cars in the last three years. Therefore its move to adopt generative AI is not a surprising one. As reported by Reuters, Russia’s dominant lender said it had released GigaChat in an invite-only testing mode for now, unofficially putting itself out there in the generative AI chatbot race.

Since its launch in November, ChatGPT has geofenced itself in Russia, preventing users from accessing its services from the country. What sets GigaChat apart from ChatGPT, according to Sberbank, is its ability to communicate more intelligently in Russian than other foreign neural networks.

For context, ChatGPT knows at least 95 natural languages–including Russian. Before Sberbank’s move, local media reports indicated that Russian data analysis, modeling, and data processing company Sistemma had launched an AI called SistemmaGPT, a functional analog of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Quoting Sistemma’s statement on March 26, the report indicated that the AI had been developed using the company’s research and development in combination with the work done by Stanford University. SistemmaGPT has been made available for businesses to test since late last month.

Sistemma also noted that the AI model operates on Russian servers and has been specifically adapted to cater to the needs of businesses and users in Russia. It can analyze large volumes of data to find insights, serve as a virtual assistant to communicate with clients and create customized recommendations and other reports.

The company added that SistemmaGPT would first integrate office processes in commercial and government organizations. Sistemma will also actively develop an image and video processing program that will solve complex vision tasks and will be released in June this year.

While ChatGPT led to a rise of AI chatbots, including GigaChat, Ernie Bot, and Google Bard, the battle for regulation gradually intensified too. Most recently, Germany joined other European countries in scrutinizing the use of personal data by ChatGPT, demanding answers from its maker OpenAI.

Regional data protection authorities in Europe’s top economy have compiled a questionnaire for OpenAI and expect a response by June 11, said Marit Hansen, commissioner for the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. “We are asking OpenAI for information on issues that stem from the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” he added.

Before Germany, Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT last month over allegations its data-gathering broke privacy laws. It has since asked OpenAI to adjust its chatbot so it can be back online in the country at the end of April. France’s regulator also said it had opened a formal procedure after receiving five complaints earlier this month. At the same time, Spain’s AEPD data protection agency also said it had opened an inquiry into the software and its US owner.