Russian lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) said on Monday it had released technology called GigaChat as a rival to ChatGPT, initially in an invite-only testing mode, joining the artificial intelligence chatbot race.

The release last year of ChatGPT, a chatbot from the Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O) startup OpenAI, has caused a sprint in the technology sector to put AI into more users’ hands. The hope is to reshape how people work and win business in the process.

Sberbank said what sets GigaChat apart was its ability to communicate more intelligently in Russian than other foreign neural networks.

Russia’s dominant bank has invested heavily in technology in recent years, seeking to reduce the country’s reliance on imports, a process that has become critically important as Western nations have slashed exports to Russia and imposed punitive sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

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