MOSCOW, Dec 21 – PRIME. The coronavirus has become a real test of strength for Russian banks, which can only be won by those who offer understandable and convenient digital services to a client sitting at a remote location. The system of fast payments will work between legal entities This competition has given an additional impetus to the System of fast payments: if last year Russians sent each other small test transfers to make sure that it really works, now the SBP has become a familiar way to transfer money. Of course, even before the pandemic, a lot was done to develop the system: the number of participating banks has long exceeded one hundred and is confidently approaching two hundred. However, it was in conditions of self-isolation that Russians truly appreciated the convenience of instant transfers: the number of transactions, according to the Central Bank, has grown 14 times since the beginning of the year, and their volume – 12 times. CANCELLATION OF SLAVERY A noticeable contribution to this dynamics was made by the connection of Sberbank. Skeptics argued that it was categorically unprofitable for him to join the system, and he would rather receive constant fines from the Central Bank for his stubbornness than allow customers to transfer money by phone number to another bank. However, in May he finally succumbed to regulatory pressure. The popularity of the SBP will probably grow further against the background of the recently adopted tariff decisions of Tinkoff Bank – since December 10, the bank canceled free transfers to Sberbank cards by phone number, keeping only transfers by card number and via SBP free. Next year, the system will have to consolidate its success, as it is faced with an equally ambitious task of ridding entrepreneurs of acquiring “slavery” – commissions for cashless payments. According to Alla Bakina, director of the department of the national payment system of the Central Bank, the potential of the system is enormous – the regulator and banks have something to work on. “If we talk about plans for the next year, then this is, of course, the development and popularization of both the system as a whole and its individual services in particular. For example, businesses are interested in the widespread introduction of C2B payments, because tariffs in the Fast Payment System allow companies significantly reduce their acquiring costs, “she told RIA Novosti. The first steps to solve this problem have already been taken: in October, Russians set a record for paying for goods and services through the Fast Payment System. But the regulator is not going to stop there: for many banks, the service of payment by QR code through this system will become mandatory. PANDEMIC AS A STIMULUS When asked what task was set for the system in the past year, the experts answered unanimously – to ensure the maximum participation of banks in it. However, the coronavirus slightly interfered with these plans: many credit organizations sent their employees to work remotely due to the pandemic, and the Central Bank had to give banks with a universal license another delay – until January 1, 2021. Systemically important banks were obliged to become members of the SBP last year; only Sberbank did not have time to do this in time. The main reason why he so stubbornly did not want to connect is quite understandable – the unwillingness to share profits and customers with other SBP participants, because the largest bank has its own system, Sberbank-online, debugged. The head of the bank, German Gref, said at the beginning of last year that a possible reduction in acquiring tariffs and the introduction of the Fast Payment System, in the most unfavorable set of circumstances, could cost Sberbank 3-4% of profit. On the contrary, with the passage of time, experts give very positive assessments. According to Viktor Dostov, Chairman of the Association of Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market Participants of the Russian Federation, the dynamics of transfers in the Fast Payments System in the future will depend on its distribution in retail outlets. And no one bothers Sberbank to ride the wave, becoming the largest provider of services for accepting payments in stores. By the way, he has not yet offered the service of paying with a QR code in the SBP, reminded the director of the acquiring department of Russian Standard Bank Inna Emelyanova. “It is quite possible that we will see not an outflow, but an inflow of money to Sberbank in 2021. Due to the lower rates in the market and the rather active work of Sberbank on digitalization, I do not think that we will see a dramatic outflow of client money from its accounts. an impulse to the SBP can be given by the growth of mortgage lending. If a person has a mortgage in one bank and an account in another, then the SBP can become a channel for transferring money to repay the loan, “Dostov believes. LOAD COMMISSION! Another significant event that had a positive effect on the dynamics of transactions in the SBP in the coronavirus year was the legislative limitation of fees for transfers, said Pavel Loutsker, head of the Daily Banking department of Raiffeisenbank. The corresponding decision of the Central Bank entered into force in May: up to 100 thousand rubles can be transferred free of charge by phone number per month. At the same time, in Sberbank, such a free limit for transfers between its clients is half as much. Central Bank statistics show that most transactions within the Fast Payment System are free. “We see that 99% of transactions are carried out precisely in the range of up to 100 thousand,” Alla Bakina said. It is likely that in the future the possibilities for transfers within the system will expand: in March, the Central Bank made a proposal to increase the size of transfers to 2 million rubles from the current 600 thousand. The main task for the next year is to ensure the spread of the system for accepting payments in stores: it is planned to do this for several dozen banks in the next two to three months. However, the task of ensuring payment through the SBP in stores is not easy, because this market is not just already saturated – it has certain rules, Dostov emphasizes. Most stores in Russia are required to accept Mir cards, which are served by the National Payment Card System (NSPK). But the Fast Payments System also works on the basis of the NSPK – that is, the company de facto competes with itself. It will be interesting to see how this conflict will be resolved in practice, the expert says. “The system of fast payments cannot become a full-fledged replacement for acquiring right away. However, there are already integrations with business loyalty systems. I am sure that this will help accelerate the growth of the number of payments in various areas. Now management and brokerage companies, technology retail and numerous companies are showing good dynamics. I expect that in the very near future there will be many successful examples of online payment, “says Georgy Konnov, head of Raiffeisenbank’s e-commerce development department. Payment using QR codes can be in demand among small and medium-sized businesses, which, although they complain about commissions for acquiring, are increasingly faced with the desire of buyers to pay without using cash, believes the managing director of the NKR rating agency Stanislav Volkov. However, the turning point here promises to be not the next, but already 2022, when all systemically important banks will already support this service, and consumers will already appreciate the convenience of the new payment method and will themselves be interested in the availability of such an option.