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Digital payments overtake cash in Russia

Digital payments overtake cash in Russia

For the first time, in the fourth quarter of last year Russians made more payments digitally than with cash, according to analysis from Sberbank.

Sberbank crunched the numbers as part of its SberData project, finding that Russians made 50.4% of total transactions with cashless instruments during the quarter, up 4.5 percentage points on the same period in 2018.

The migration away from cash is not limited to big cities, with 36 regions reaching the 50% tipping point. Murmansk region in the northwest leads the way with 60% of transactions cashless.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Saint Petersburg lag, coming in at 30th and 19th places in the ranking of Russian cashless cities.

Russia's migration to digital payments has been partly driven by the creation of a national payments card intended to challenge the dominance of Visa and MasterCard.

The scheme was built at the behest of President Vladimir Putin in response to US and EU sanctions in 2014 which saw MasterCard and Visa cut off services to several of the country's banks following the annexation of Crimea.

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