24.11.2020

Russian banks set an ultimatum to authorities

Russian banks delivered an ultimatum to the authorities. Financial institutions are unhappy that they are losing money due to government support measures for the population and business. Bankers asked the government to remove restrictions on acquiring fees – non-cash payments, which would return to them revenues of 10-15 billion rubles. Otherwise, they will introduce a fee for everything that is now free: issuing cards, using a mobile bank, access to a call center. The State Duma believes that banks are bluffing.

The Association of Banks of Russia (ADB) asked the government to return the previous size of acquiring fees. This is the percentage that companies pay to the acquiring bank responsible for the transfer, the issuing bank and the payment system for each cashless payment. The fact is that from April to the end of September, the Central Bank reduced the rate to 1% for online purchases and medical services to support business and the public.

Interestingly, the “battle for acquiring” between the regulator and banks has been going on for a long time. Last year, the Central Bank limited too high commissions for non-cash payments. Moreover, the acquiring fee was called “quasi-tax” by Vladimir Putin himself. He even made arguments. According to him, on average, the store gives the bank 3% of the amount of the purchase by bank transfer, while in the world the commission is 0.2-0.3%.

In this crisis, the Central Bank decided to use its right to limit fees, which caused the indignation of banks. ADB is confident that a decrease in acquiring fees will lead to a decrease in incentives for the use of non-cash payment methods, because cards will become less attractive for use. Here the banks themselves will try: they threaten to take money from consumers for issuing and servicing cards (they are now free, for example, for pensioners and students), to reduce or cancel loyalty programs.

Even calls to the call center can be paid, which is especially unpleasant. If the client needs to urgently block the card, and he does not have money on the balance sheet, he will not be able to do this. The ADB does not indicate exactly how much customer service can go up in price. However, on average, servicing a bank card costs several hundred rubles a month, which means that a year we are talking about several thousand rubles.

Association vice-president Aleksey Voylukov explained that free services for consumers are now compensated by the acquiring business fee. This is the main difference between the European business model, where commissions are low, from the Russian one. If the restrictions continue, ordinary customers will be forced to pay for business exemptions. Banks also threatened small outlets to refuse their services. Like, shops with less than 12 million non-cash payments per year are unprofitable for them to serve.

In general, recently, banks have been greatly curtailed by opportunities to earn money. Since June 14, the action of “bank roaming” (payment for transfers between regions) has been canceled, free transfers have been temporarily introduced as part of the Central Bank’s Fast Payments System, the State Duma is considering a bill to abolish bank fees for housing and communal services. At the same time, it is in the banking sector that the state pours huge funds into all crises. In addition, loans are the main source of income for financial institutions.

Experts believe that banks will have to balance between the desire to return the previous margin and the fear of losing even more. “On the one hand, it is logical that banks will try to compensate for the loss of acquiring income from other services. On the other hand, there is great doubt that a fee for issuing and servicing cards for all will be introduced. Amid falling real incomes and rising unemployment, this could lead to an outflow of customers. Banks do not need this at all: the competition for new consumers is too high, ”said Nikita Ryabinin, head of the KRK Group consulting group.

However, our interlocutor is confident that banks will find a way to reduce losses. “This could be a decrease in the size of the cashback or an increase in some individual tariffs. However, there is little chance that this will affect mobile banks or call centers directly. In this case, communication with customers will be limited, which will cause a negative reaction from consumers, ”the expert concluded.

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