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Mobileye’s Shashua takes control of Israel’s new digital bank

Shashua to buy holdings of co-founder Marius Nacht and inject $60 million into the fully digital bank, which expects to start operations in 2021

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Left to right: Amnon Shashua and Marius Nacht get a letter from Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron and Supervisor of Banks Hedva Ber, saying they will get a license to set up a digital bank in Israel (Courtesy)
Left to right: Amnon Shashua and Marius Nacht get a letter from Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron and Supervisor of Banks Hedva Ber, saying they will get a license to set up a digital bank in Israel (Courtesy)

Amnon Shashua, the CEO of Mobileye and the orchestrator behind Intel Corp.’s recent acquisition of smart-transit startup Moovit, will be taking the helm of a new digital bank initiative in Israel by becoming its sole controlling shareholder.

Shashua will buy the holdings of the bank’s co-founder, billionaire entrepreneur Marius Nacht, and is committing to inject a total of $60 million as equity into the new lender, as required, the statement said.

Nacht and Shashua have informed the Bank of Israel of their new arrangement,  the two said in a statement late Wednesday, and the accord is now pending the central bank’s approval.

Nacht will focus “on new, meaningful healthcare and biomed ventures,” the statement said. Nacht is the founder of the aMoon Fund, which invests in healthcare technologies.

Nacht is also the co-founder of Check Point Software Technologies, which is traded in New York at a market value of some $15.1 billion. Shashua is the co-founder of Mobileye, a developer of self-driving vehicle technologies that was acquired in 2017 by US tech giant Intel for a whopping $15.3 billion. Earlier this week Intel said it bought Moovit for $900 million, to help Mobileye become a complete mobility provider.

In September, the Bank of Israel gave a nod of approval for the establishment of the bank, Israel’s first new bank in some 40 years, led by Nacht and Shashua.

Unlike other existing banks in Israel that added a digital channel to their traditional operations, the digital bank, which has yet to choose a name, will not have any physical branches.

The bank has recruited tens of new employees to its ranks over the past two months, mainly for software development and data positions, and is currently completing the configuration of its products, services, and regulatory work processes. It is also setting up its various departments, including customer support and service, banking, and operating teams, the statement said.

The bank has also entered a mutual inter-bank recognition agreement to allow its customers to withdraw cash from the ATMs of all other banks in Israel, and is completing the process of becoming a member of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, as well as the necessary agreements required to allow its customers to trade in other stock exchanges worldwide.

“I am convinced that the digital bank offers a unique opportunity for implementing a significant transformation of the economy and take the financial industry to a better technological future for consumers,” Shashua said in the statement.

The bank expects to start services in the second half of 2021.

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