Expert opinions, FINANCE

How foreign purchases have changed for Russians

Russian markets continue to adapt to new economic conditions, and the end of this process is not yet visible. But how will this affect models of behavior of the Russians themselves, will the business continue to look for ways out in order to eliminate restrictions and offer more and more new solutions?

Grigory Sysoev / RIA Novosti

Point of no return

The beginning of last year changed a lot, and the financial sector was one of the first to feel these changes. Disconnecting the largest banks from SWIFT, actual exit of international payment systems Visa and Mastercard, departure from the country of foreign brands and services already familiar to citizens changed forever the model of behavior both of business, and ordinary people.

Living and paying for purchases and familiar services, as before, was no longer possible. The market had to adapt to the changed conditions in extremely short terms. And this process began: tourist agencies began to offer travel packages “Obtain Visa in Uzbekistan,” startups offered to open remotely cards of foreign banks, and some countries launched hunt for specialists from Russia.

And only now, after almost a year and a half, we can admit safely that the situation began to “settle down” – many players “fit” into the changed market. In particular, the parallel import mechanism was launched, and in general, with the exception of new logos on the windows, an ordinary resident of Russia did not notice much any significant changes in this sense,

But there are other people who worked directly with foreign counterparties, used to rest abroad or simply had real estate there. For this category of citizens, everything turned out to be more complicated – after all, being in a situation “between two lights,” they were forced to look for Russian solutions of problems arising abroad. And here the adaptation is still going on.

Hand on the pulse

One of the most revealing examples is the market of personal banking cards. Visa and MasterCard payment systems left Russia in March 2022, as a result Russian cards of these companies stopped working abroad. Yes, inside our country there are NSPC and the MIR system, which saved the population from collapse of non-cash payments, but Russians had to forget at first about foreign online stores and services.

And here began a special, versatile development. First solution that many people found was a Russian card working through the Chinese UnionPay payment system.

But, as it turned out later, Russian UnionPay cards are not accepted anywhere on the Internet and, in general, are extremely limited in use around the world. But payments on the foreign Internet are needed not only by Russians, but also by Russian services. Therefore, some companies, for example, Aviasales, offered their services for buying foreign air tickets. In particular, the metasearch service allows you to buy tickets for aircraft of foreign companies and at the same time pay in rubles and by Russian card.

But most often such services are no different from simple services of intermediaries, where overpayment of 15-20% has become almost the norm. Cryptocurrency still remained very niche and not beloved by banks, and trips to the CIS countries for cards are a matter only for the most daring people, not busy ones or those who are versed in the working conditions of banks of other countries.

This gave a further impetus to development, justifying the emergence of services for remote receipt of cards without going abroad. In fact, these are intermediaries, providing services for opening a bank card, which take fixed fee only for a single service, saving the user from the need to pay a high fee for each transaction.

Cards of the CIS countries are also especially popular here: wide ties with Russia, the possibility of simple remote account replenishment and even binding with Russian numbers are increasingly gaining the recognition of banks from near abroad.

What’s next?

But the modern stage is far from the final, development will continue. First, because Visa and Mastercard are unlikely to return to the Russia. Therefore, any person who wants to travel abroad, to make purchases on foreign websites or to work for a foreign company, is forced to look for the optimal financial options for himself.

Secondly, active legalization takes place now: if a year ago people trusted anyone to transfer money or make a purchase, today services are already using at least individual entrepreneurs and provide a guarantee of services. This increases their reliability and “washes out” scammers who have also managed to take advantage of the era of change for their own purposes.

Today, according to statistics, a quarter of Russians use trans border goods delivery services, and millions more go for rest abroad.

Therefore, no one intends to miss such a large audience, and the appearance of new ways of working in their interests is only a matter of time. And in financial sector this process is proceeding faster than it seems.

By Maxim Efimov, Head of Sales, Remote service for opening of cards of foreign banks “Sea of Cards”

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