From August 3 in Russia, the possibilities of depositing cash to electronic wallets are limited. Users of the service “Yandex.Money”, “QIWI-Wallet” WebMoney, PayPal, VK Pay and other similar systems will no longer be able to deposit cash into their accounts through payment terminals and offices of cellular operators. To do this, they need to identify themselves and link a bank account to the wallet, writes RBK.
Rosfinmonitoring came up with an initiative to strengthen control over the sphere of electronic money. Its representatives stated that such services are used for illegal activities, including the financing of terrorism and the distribution of drugs, and after linking a bank account to a wallet, the source of funds becomes known.
Amendments to the law on the national payment system were adopted summer 2019, but market participants were given 12 months to adapt business processes. The idea of toughening cash transactions for wallet holders was also supported by the Bank of Russia “in order to minimize the risks of transactions with anonymous cards and electronic wallets.” For the same reason, the regulator did not agree to postpone the application of the new rules due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Association of Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market Participants, about 10 million people use electronic wallets anonymously. More than 2 billion transactions worth over 1.7 trillion rubles are performed annually through such services. As explained RIA Novosti Chairman of the Association Viktor Dostov, the ban applies to all types of non-personalized instruments, regardless of their purpose, including transport cards and student cards. How many projects will be forced to suspend accepting cash is unknown. Usually these are small regional payment solutions for transportation, catering for employees, school and work canteens.
In October last year, Qiwi proposed to allow the replenishment of electronic wallets by unidentified users if the wallet is opened in a credit institution and the transaction amount does not exceed 5 thousand rubles… In June of this year, the Central Bank and Rosfinmonitoring agreed to withdraw the wallets of transport cards from the law, but in the end it was considered inappropriate.
In some regions, residents were warned of possible problems in advance. On July 30, the Department of Roads and Transport of the Lipetsk Region published a message stating that transport cards can no longer be replenished in cash. This can be done at Sberbank and Bank Zenit, through a bank terminal or by using a payment link. The same message appeared on the transport portal of Veliky Novgorod – from August 3, the Beresta card can be replenished only through a bank or an application. And in the Ivanovo region they promise to modify the software so that when the card is replenished in cash, the client will be identified. As explained by the head of the Directorate “Transport and Social Cards” of the payment system “Golden Crown” Alexander Grishin, in total, the ban on replenishment in cash will affect about 20 regions.
The Central Bank explained that the ban on cash replenishment does not apply to the Moscow Troika and St. Petersburg Plantain: initially the payment goes to the transport organization, and then to the card. “Our citizens will be able to freely replenish such cards with cash, just as before,” the Central Bank representative assured. But the operator of the Strelka transport card near Moscow has already notified its clients that it is impossible to replenish their balance in cash after August 3, while at the same time declaring that no more than 10% of customers prefer to replenish their balance in cash.
The press service of the transport department of the Chelyabinsk administration also said that residents will have the opportunity to replenish transport cards in cash, writes “Kommersant”… The head of the Passenger Union, a member of the public council under the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, Kirill Yankov, believes that transport cards in the regions are not as popular as in Moscow, so no big problems are expected in this area. “Another question is that it is more convenient for most users to replenish a card for 100-150 rubles through a terminal than through a bank,” he explained.
Large companies offering e-wallets to customers have already prepared for the changes. As noted in the press service of the QIWI group, the overwhelming majority of wallet holders in their system are identified, the process of abandoning anonymous wallets in favor of ordinary ones continues. Yandex.Money also claims that the transition will be painless: among their clients, the share of anonymous users who replenish their wallets in cash does not exceed 5%, and after replenishment, the client is identified. At the same time, the prohibition of anonymous cash replenishment of wallets will complicate the client’s transition to non-cash payments.
WebMoney also informed its customers about the upcoming changes and introduced new identification methods for them. However, they note that a significant proportion of the owners of unidentified electronic wallets are teenagers and citizens who do not have a passport or bank account. For them, an electronic wallet is becoming a non-alternative way of making online purchases, and there is no question of their transition to cashless payments.
The Association of Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market Participants believes that the amendments will negatively affect regional social projects where electronic wallets are used. According to experts, a complete ban on replenishing wallets with cash does not correspond to the real level of risks and will slow down the process of crowding out cash in certain segments of the economy.