Russian e-money volumes set to double in 2012 as new rules come into force

Source: Russian Electronic Money Association

Russian EMA has announced that market volume for e-money reached 125 billion roubles in 2011 and is expected to double in 2012 when Law "On National Payment System" fully comes into force.

Russian Electronic Money Association announced the results of e-money industry for 2011 and Q1 2012. In 2011 customers topped up their e-wallets for 125 bln. roubles (approx. 4.1 bln. USD) nearly doubling the figure of 2010's 70 bln. roubles (2.3 bln. USD). There has been a slower growth in customer base, however. According to Russian EMA data, number of the active e-wallets rose from 30 to 34 million - hence, indicating nearing saturation point.

Adoption of the Federal Law "On National Payment System" was cited as a main development of 2011. Electronic money was officially recognized by the regulators; yet the by-laws are still to be updated accordingly. Russian EMA confirmed its dedication to further collaborate with the Central Bank of Russia to make transition as smooth as possible and create environment most conducive to innovations and fair business practices.

Special licensing requirements introduced by new regulation are expected to reshape the market. As stated by the Russian EMA, new requirements have already made smaller players to leave the business while large actors such as banks or mobile network operators boosted their ambition as payment providers.

Payment innovations implemented in Russia during 2011 were mostly the results of e-money operators' cooperation with banks and other actors. Latest trend to use electronic money for offline payments will still be relevant in 2012 and forthcoming years. While NFC technology is still slow to catch on mobile devices, co-branded bank cards, SMS/USSD payments in cafes, petrol stations and at other locations are growing in popularity.

State becomes more active in combating cash and implementing e-Government project. Members of the Association stated again that combating cash should be based on raising awareness of the public about new payment methods and not exclusively on administrative decisions. Good example of such approach is the development of e-Government mobile application with payment functtionality.

"2011 was a turning point for the payment industry in Russia," said Victor Dostov, President of the Russian EMA. "E-money clauses in the Federal Law 'On National Payment System' were broadly discussed both by decision-makers and market players. I strongly believe that new regulation will not hamper popularity of e-money. On the contrary, new configuration on the market, new players and innovative products will undoubtedly contribute to further evolution of the industry."

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