Russia - Country Commercial Guide
Financial Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-15

Overview

The banking sector is the key component of the financial system. Credit institutions conduct settlements, safeguard clients’ funds in bank accounts and transform these funds into loans to the economy. Per the Central Bank of Russia, as of July 1, 2020, there are 388 operating banks (257 banks with a universal license and 131 banks with a basic license) and 39 non-bank financial institutions in Russia.

Banks and non-bank financial institutions offer financial services to clients based on banking licenses issued by the Bank of Russia. There are two types of banking licenses in the Russian Federation: a universal license issued to banks whose equity exceeds 1 billion rubles, and a basic license for banks whose equity ranges from 300 million to 1 billion rubles. A basic license provides for simplified regulation, but it also involves several restrictions. Two-thirds of the banks in Russia hold universal licenses (they account for over 95% of total assets in banking), while the remaining banks have basic licenses.

Russia also has a deposit insurance system in place protecting depositors’ interests. It covers the funds of consumers, individual entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Most banks have joined this system, and the maximum insurance coverage established by the system amounts to 1.4 million rubles, including interest accumulated.

In Russia, the ratio of bank assets to GDP is approximately 90%. Over one-half of credit institutions’ assets are accounted for by loans, of which two-thirds are corporate loans and one-third are retail loans. Bank liabilities are dominated by the funds of clients—businesses and individuals.

The primary pieces of banking legislation are:

  • The Civil Code of the Russian Federation;
  • Federal Law No. 395-1 “On Banks and Banking Activities” dated 2 December 1990;
  • Federal Law No. 86-FZ “On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation” dated 10 July 2002;
  • Federal Law No. 177-FZ “On the Insurance of Deposits in the Banks of the Russian Federation” dated 23 December 2003;
  • Federal Law No. 353-FZ “On Consumer Credits (Loans)” dated 21 December 2013 (“Consumer Credit Law”); and
  • Federal Law No. 115-FZ “On Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism” dated 7 August 2011 (“Anti-money Laundering Law”).
  • A foreign bank may establish a subsidiary in Russia in the form of a Russian legal entity (joint-stock company or limited liability company).

The total share of foreign investment in the charter capital of all credit organizations in the Russian banking system may not exceed 50%. If this limit is reached, the Bank of Russia is entitled to refuse to register Russian credit organizations with foreign investments and to issue banking licenses to them.

According to the International Monetary Fund Report, the Russian banking sector is better positioned to face the current stress than in previous crises. To reduce the immediate economic impacts and support the financial sector, the Russian Government and the Central Bank have announced a range of policy responses aimed at injecting liquidity and easing monetary conditions, supporting the banking sector and its borrowers, stabilizing financial markets, supporting non-bank financial institutions and facilitating the use of digital payments. In Russia, this includes measures such as:

  • continuously providing support for the ruble and FX liquidity;
  • allowing regulatory forbearance for banks and micro-finance organizations to allow the restructuring of loans to SMEs, to firms in the most affected sectors and individuals affected by the pandemic as well as softening requirements for lending to the most affected industries;
  • expanding subsidized lending and partial credit guaranty programs for SMEs and affected industries;
  • simplifying the use of digital payments;
  • postponing several changes to the regulation of credit organizations;
  • reducing the regulatory and supervisory burden on financial institutions;
  • maintaining the availability of insurance services;
  • supporting professional participants in the securities market and the trading and clearing infrastructure; and
  • supporting collective investment market participants, among others.

The Central Bank of Russia and the government have demonstrated their willingness and capacity to provide support to the sector when required. The Russian government bought control of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, from Russia’s Central Bank; the transaction will help compensate for the lost revenues due to the slump in oil prices and to meet social obligations increased by the pandemic. In April, the Russian government completed the purchase of a majority stake in Sberbank from the Central Bank of Russia in a 2.1 trillion-ruble (US$28.5 billion) deal.

In Russia, where digital payments are already prevalent, the pandemic could be a significant catalyst for further advancement of the use of digital financial services. In 2018, the Russian Central Bank created a regulatory instrument to encourage new financial services and technologies such as a system of fast payments, a unified system of biometric identification, and a financial supermarket.

Fintech partnership programs designed to help early-stage startups to meet market needs were set up in 2018 by Sberbank, Raiffeisenbank, Tinkoff, and Alfa Bank. Several banks also acquired startups in the field of loyalty and payments, including Alfa Bank (Cardsmobile) and Tinkoff (Cloudpayments). The UK fintech unicorn Revolut also entered Russia in 2018 via a licensing deal with Qiwi Bank.

In 2018, the Bank of Russia approved the Guidelines for Financial Technology Development for 2018-2020. To develop financial technologies in 2018-2020, the Bank of Russia has set the following objectives:

  • promoting competition in the financial market;
  • raising financial inclusion, and increasing the quality and range of financial services;
  • reducing risks and costs in the financial sector;
  • ensuring security and stability in applying financial technologies;
  • raising the competitiveness of Russian technologies.
  • Russia’s Central Bank also launched a Fintech Association in 2016.
  • Leading Sub-Sectors
  • Russian Financial Services Growth forecast by 2035 (according to EY):
  • 96.3% of all transactions in Russia will be performed using innovative services for making payments and remittances;
  • 36.7% of financing will be provided using innovative financing services;
  • 46.1% will be paid to FinTech service operators to maintain insurance;
  • 9.8% Insurance (InsurTech) of assets will be managed using innovative services for investments and capital management;
  • Online banking and digital payments
  • Digital payments and personal finances are the two major segments of the fintech industry in Russia.

According to Statista, in 2019, the total value of electronic payments was over 613 trillion Russian rubles ($8.5 trillion), while the value of bank card payments constituted roughly 27 trillion Russian rubles ($375 billion). Bank cards were the second most employed method of payment after cash in the country as of 2019, among which MasterCard, Visa, and the National Payment System Mir were the market leaders and recognized as socially important by the Central Bank of Russia.

According to the Digital Market Outlook, the Digital Payments segment in Russia was expected to grow to nearly 69 billion U.S. dollars in 2024. Personal financing was the second major FinTech segment in the region, with an expected value of over 20 billion dollars by 2024.

Neobanks

Neobanks are fully digitalized financial institutions that lack physical branch networks and operate with products related to financial technologies. Founded in 2006 as a branchless bank card issuer, Tinkoff Bank with its 8-10 million customers is one of the largest virtual banks in Russia.

Opportunities

Online payments, Digital payments, Neobanks, FinTech start-ups

Resources

  • The Association of Russian Banks
  • Russian FinTech Association
  • Sberbank