The largest country in the world (by area) often goes unnoticed when it comes to FinTech. There are certain political, economic and social factors contributing to that, which is not the focus of this article. While the Russian FinTech industry definitely has a long way to go, there are some notable players operating in the space. With the growing global attention to the industry, Russian FinTech has a great potential to catch up and develop a conducive environment for FinTech innovation.
The largest segment in the Russian Fintech industry is Digital Payments with the total transaction value expected to reach around $32 billion in 2016 with an annual growth rate of 18% reaching $63 billion by 2020.
Russia’s largest bank has demonstrated a keen interest in financial technology, in particular, bitcoin and blockchain. Last year, SBT Venture Capital, a $100m venture fund backed by Sberbank, shared officially that despite the regulatory rope around the neck of bitcoin, the fund will still be looking at opportunities for implementation.
While the Russian government pursues initiatives to ban bitcoin, the innovation momentum in the country continues to gain speed.
Let’s look at some of the FinTech players in Russia driving innovation momentum that can potentially take the industry to the next level.
LifePay: LifePay is a mobile solution certified by Visa and MasterCard that enables credit card payments acceptance. The company enables credit card payments on smartphones with guaranteed transactional security. The app provides transaction analytics with information for each payment or refund in the already developed LifePay solution.
Touch Bank: Touch Bank is an online retail bank, an international project of OTP Group, a European financial group and one of the leaders in Central and Eastern Europe’s banking market. Touch Bank has been operating in Russia since 2015 under OTP Bank’s license.
QIWI: QIWI is a leading provider of next-generation payment services in Russia and the CIS. It has an integrated proprietary network that enables payment services across physical, online and mobile channels. It has deployed over 16.7 million virtual wallets, over 149,000 kiosks and terminals, and enabled merchants to accept over RUB 70 billion in cash and electronic payments monthly from over 57 million consumers using its network at least once a month.
Blackmoon Financial Group: Blackmoon is a marketplace lending platform for balance sheet lenders. The platform enables investors to fuel high-yield consumer loan portfolios in Europe and the CIS with a proprietary technology solution, risk analysis toolkit and technical support.
MILI: MILI is a Russian financial company that offers services for microfinance. The company's technology allows it to issue loans to active users of social networks, leveraging their social capital. A credit decision is made directly on the website within five minutes with funds transferred through one of the largest retail chains in Russia (over 5,000 retails posts) — Euroset.
Rosmicrocredit: Rosmicrocredit is an online payday lender that offers short-term personal loans to consumers in Russia.
Federal Finance: Federal Finance is a Russian provider of online identification services to companies.
Dengi Online: Dengi Online is an aggregator of payment systems, which provides payment services for all websites. The company has offices in the CIS, USA and Europe. The company implements payments systems that accept payments made via bank cards (Visa, MasterCard), mobile phone operators (Megafon, Beeline, MTS, etc.), Internet payment systems (QIWI purse , Yandex, WebMoney, Dengi@Mail.ru, etc.) through terminals (QIWI, Cyberplat, JCB, Novoplat and others) as well as by receiving cash payments.
Platiza: Platiza is an online microfinance service that provides short-term payday loans. After an online identification and scoring process, funds can be transferred to the customer's debit card, Visa Qiwi Wallet or any e-commerce partner account for purchase settlement purposes. Funds are posted within 5-10 minutes in case of a positive decision.
Moneymail: Moneymail is an electronic payments system. All the payments are made instantly; the user simply has to register on the website. Moneymail provides the opportunity to use online shops, pay for cell phone services, pay via credit cards, generate invoices etc. The company's partner network exceeds 450.
Vdolg.ru: Vdolg is a P2P lender in Russia that implements the principle of “money directly from the lender to the borrower”. Borrowers can obtain funds at lower rates than conventional banks, without reference to income and guarantors. Lenders can issue money in debt, choosing one of the investment strategies and earning more than they would on bank deposits.
PayMe: PayMe allows small businesses and private sellers to accept credit card payments. They joined forces with Isracard in order to provide an innovative payment solution for a new market.
Zaimi Online: Zaimi Online is an Instant lending platform. Loans are provided internationally in amounts up to RUR 15,000. Funds can be transferred to a bank account or card within 95 seconds.
The Russian FinTech ecosystem wouldn’t have a chance without investors believing in it and investing funds. While there are certainly a lot more players, here are some examples of venture funds that are actively seeking opportunities in FinTech.
Renova Group: Renova Group of companies is Russia's leading private business group that consists of asset management companies and direct and portfolio investment funds owning and managing assets in metals mining, oil, machine building, mining, construction development, energy, telecommunications, nanotechnologies, utilities and the financial sector in Russia and abroad.
Life.SREDA: Life.SREDA is a venture capital firm focusing on investments in FinTech, mobile and Internet projects. Their strategy is determined by the deep understanding of the rapidly growing FinTech 2.0 industry and the narrow investment focus. Life.SREDA has invested $40M in 13 startups and made 5 successful exits from their first fund. The firm focuses exclusively on FinTech and sponsors leading global FinTech eventsFinovate (San Jose, New York, London) and Money2020 (Las Vegas).
SBT Ventures: SBT Venture Capital manages a FinTech VC fund investing in the most promising growth stage companies in the financial services industry. SBT Ventures was launched by Sberbank in 2012 with a backing of $100 million with the intention to bring the number to $700 million over three years. The fund is aimed to foster innovation in areas such as big data, cloud computing, mobile payments and online banking. While the fund doesn’t yet have Russia-based startups in its portfolio, its officials shared the intention to invest in bitcoin alternatives.
Runa Capital: Runa Capital is a technology-focused venture capital firm whose investments have created or incubated companies with more than $10 billion in assets. It consists of two funds, the first, Runa I is $135 million and has made 33 investments. The second, Runa II is currently raising and will be closed early this year. The fund was established to seek growth opportunities in the rapidly growing tech sector, with specific focus on cloud computing and other hosted services, health tech, FinTech, Edtech and middleware/IT.
QIWI Universe: Qiwi Universe is a corporate venture fund that invests in sectors such as Big Data, identification, FinTech, AI, loyalty programs and others.
Flint Capital: Flint Capital is an international venture capital fund focusing on Mobile, SaaS, Advertisement, Financial and Educational Technologies as well as the Security and Enterprise sectors. Founded in 2013, the fund has committed around $100 million in capital investments.
Prostor Capital: Prostor Capital is a Russian venture fund focused on profitable investments in dynamically growing companies in IT & Internet markets. Priority is given to the companies with a technological component in the sphere of new financial and advertising services, cloud technologies, projects in the sphere of innovational education and digital medicine.
Maxfield Capital: Maxfield Capital is a venture capital firm that invests in global seed and early stage technology companies. The fund specializes in early and growth stage technology companies that are prepared to tackle global markets. Today the firm prioritizes post-PC era technologies that narrow the divide between humans and machines.
Fastlane Ventures: Fastlane Ventures is an investment company which specializes in creating and developing successful online businesses based on an extremely successful business model which is unique in Russia.
Genezis Technology Capital: Genezis Technology Capital is a private equity and venture capital firm that invests in Russia, CIS, US, Europe and Asia from $25k to $20m to help founders move from idea to product or service to revenue and, ultimately, to profitability. Besides money, the firm provides companies with top-level support from renowned mentors from all over the world to help companies grow faster using top expertise and connections.
Among other organizations and funds that are developing the Russian FinTech ecosystem are iDealMachine, Russia Partners, Buran Venture Capital, RWM Capital, Starta Capital, PSB Venture Fund, FinSight, and others.