Yandex has announced a partnership with the Russian Development Bank (RBR) to expand their online payment system. Now payments to and from Yandex Money can be made from any of the ATMs belonging to the bank. As usual payments onto the system are free but withdrawals attract a 2% commission.
Web Money is still the most popular payment system in Russia with 2m registered users at the end of last year but Yandex Money is quickly increasing their user base. Yandex reports that 3000 new accounts are opened each day and more than 20,000 payments are made for various goods and services. Unfortunately only merchants registered in Russia can use the system as monies would need to be transferred to a local bank account.
Online payment method in Russia are far more complicated than in most European countries and this presents a considerable problem when selling to a Russian audience. Although credit cards are starting to be more widespread, the majority of cards distributed are barred from online transactions by the banks. This point especially applies to students and workers, who have started to be given debit cards to handle student payments and salaries respectively.
To plug this gap, more elaborate methods on online payment have sprung up, from payments through the bank (and faxing the bank receipt to the online retailer) to WebMoney and Yandex Money. In the cases of these online payment accounts, the problem has been transferring money onto the accounts in the first place. Dedicated payment machines have been installed in many shops and supermarkets which help Russians place money on a range of services, from WebMoney/Yandex Money to their mobile telephone. Yandex has now taken this one step further, and increased coverage by partnering with the bank ATMs.
Although these methods work – they are far from convenient. It’s hard to imagine that Russians, shopping online in the evening after a hard day at work, are thrilled by the prospect of walking to the nearest ATM or supermarket to place cash onto their account. Impulse buys, one suspects, are out of the question. However the number of online sales in Russia is increasing year on year. Partly this is due to the rise in availability of ‘unrestricted’ credit cards but also internet deals and discounts seem to have compensated Russians for the inconvenience of the process.