The Russian banking system

It is a well-kept secret that Foreign companies and individuals can open a bank account in Russia through a foreign company or representative office and there is a special zero tax regime if your profit is earned outside Russia. Russian banks are large, mainly safe for foreign investors with a high level of services. Because many banks have not had much experience with foreigners you need a specialized lawyer to guide you through the bank opening process. 

The Russian banking system has gone through several stages of development. At the present time, it finds itself in a transition stage, leaving behind the days of an inefficient and sly market. This process is actively stimulated by the Central Bank of Russia, which over the past five years has increasingly tightened the criteria for banking stability. As a result of the tough policies of the Central Bank, even some of the banks included in the TOP 10 banking structures were forced to close. Today, all Banks of Russia included in the TOP 10 show excellent results according to stability criteria and are distinguished by the presence of high reserve levels, liquidity and a high-quality loan portfolio.

Furthermore, together with the Central Bank, a program has been implemented to ensure the stability of the financial system of the Russian Federation against external influences and increase its independence. Thus, the National Payment System was created, allowing for bank payments within the country as well as in a number of neighboring states, without involving American processing centers. The “Mir” (Russian word that means world or peace) bank card system was also created to protect the domestic market from monopoly by international card operators. The two largest banks in Russia, Sberbank and VTB, make international payments in foreign currency without the involvement of American correspondent banks.

Nowadays there are state-owned banks in the Russian banking market; these are banks based on private Russian capital and subsidiaries of foreign banks. Banks with state majority shareholding enjoy the greatest trust, both from private customers and from the business community.

The largest foreign banks operating in Russia are Citibank and Raiffeisen Bank. Both banks have an extensive network of branches both in the capital cities and in the regions of Russia. They work with both private clients and business structures. Their disadvantages include the low development of Internet services and insufficiently modern banking Internet clients.

The largest private bank in Russia is Alfa-Bank, which was founded by Russian entrepreneurs. Its reliability can be summed up with the popular phrase “too big to fail.”

Alfa-Bank serves a huge number of private and corporate clients. It has a very developed network of branches and modern Internet services that meet the highest standards. However, this is characteristic of almost all banks of Russian origin.

The largest banks with state majority shareholding include Sberbank and VTB. The majority shareholding in these banks belongs to the state. It is worth noting that Sberbank was founded in 1841, and it has since never stopped its activity for a single day, not even during the outbreak of revolutions and wars. The first depositor of this bank was a financier from St. Petersburg named Nikolai Kristofari, who came from a family of Italians that had moved to Russia. Today, a supercomputer supporting the work of Sberbank and occupying the 30th place in the world ranking is named in his honor.

The international tradition of Sberbank continues up to this day; it is led by Russia's ex-Minister of Economy German Gref, an ethnic German whose ancestors had also moved to Russia. Because of Sberbank being the only bank of the USSR in Soviet times, this has ensured it still holds a leading position in the market. An interesting fact is that Sberbank has research laboratories conducting studies of the human brain and developments in the field of artificial intelligence. The only drawback of this bank is its enormous number of customers, which affects somewhat negatively the quality of the service. On the contrary, another state-owned bank, VTB, relies on a more exclusive and premium customer service. Contact us!

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