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Russia Issues First Banking License in 4 Years

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A new digital bank in Russia, Bank 131, has today just received its banking license to operate. It has been four years since a new banking license was issued by the Russian authorities.

Bank 131 states a focus on local companies and entrepreneurs “that work for global internet companies and/or buy from global ecommerce companies with a Russia presence”.

It claims to offer a way for Russian workers and companies to conduct online business transparently and while keeping regulatory compliance, as a way to help build back the trust and confidence within the banking industry and among regulators. Its approach will combine payment gateways and payout models.

Dmitry Eremeev, founder of Bank131, said that the achievement was of particular significance due to what he called an active “aggressive ‘industry cleansing’ policies employed by the Central Bank of Russia”. According to them, many banks were losing their licenses, so much so that Russian banks have shrunk almost 50% in the past few years. He said:

“However, any Russian working for a global internet company or buying from a global ecommerce company badly needs compliant and quality fintech products, so our ambition is to provide them with just that. We hope our new bank will fill a niche that is not occupied by the traditional Russian banks that build their business models on retail crediting and offline business. By our estimations, we are talking about a USD 8 billion market that is not fully visible or calculated by authorities, and is not transparent to all parties involved. Examples include earnings received on Airbnb, or Russian outsourcers and freelancers hired by global tech companies.”

According to the same source, russian regulators are working on strengthening controls over foreign payment systems servicing Russian citizens, equalling their conditions to local payment systems. These will be the basis for the development of Bank 131’s compliant financial instruments.

“Russia is known for its talent, especially in IT and mathematics. Many of our citizens work for global internet companies, but it is not always easy to coordinate the local and global business processes, including digital contractors receiving payment for their work,” added Eremeev.


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