National Payment: Perspectives and Criticism
In order to avoid a repetition of the situation with the suspension of servicing by a number of Russian banks by international payment systems of plastic cards, the law obliges Visa and MasterCard to make a kind of pledge already this summer. According to the document, payment systems that are not nationally significant (without Russian owners and Russian software) should quarterly deposit 25% of the average daily turnover on accounts at the Central Bank. In case of problems with card servicing, penalties can be up to 10% of the deposit amount per day.
This is a very tangible measure, since the annual total contribution of Visa and MasterCard to the "guarantee fund", according to Natalya Burykina, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market, can be about 80 billion rubles.
In addition, one of the working conditions in the Russian market (from July 1 2016) for payment system operators will be the need to use the payment infrastructure located in Russia. Transmission of information on operations carried out by card on the territory of a foreign state or access of foreigners to this information will be prohibited (if operations are conducted within the country).
But the main protective mechanism should be the creation of its own NPS. The law provides for the creation of an NPS operator (or clearing and settlement center) in the form of an open joint stock company, 100% of whose shares belong to the Bank of Russia. The market regulator will be the owner of the NPS operator for at least two years from its inception. In the future, as Natalya Burykina noted, “if the mechanism created is credible and operates smoothly,” the Central Bank may begin to exit the operator’s capital. However, potential buyers will not be able to acquire more than 10% of the shares "in one's hands" in order to avoid the possibility of establishing control over the NPS operator by any one structure.
Earlier, at a profile meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, bankers declared their readiness to create so-called inter-host connections already in May of this year in order to exclude international payment systems from the data exchange chain. On the full launch of the NPC may need about six months. It should be noted that in the adopted amendments, banks are allotted much more time: the creation of an NPS is scheduled to take place before 1 in January of 2016.
Experts, supporting the initiative to build the NPS and noting its importance, nevertheless express serious complaints about the technology of its creation. So, Mikhail Khazin, an economist, president of NEOCON consulting company, directly calls what is happening “a strategic sabotage of the creation of a national payment system” by the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. “The main work on creating a ruble settlement system can be done in a few weeks (that is, theoretically it could already work), today you can advance quite a lot in creating a modern payment system, and there you can reach the emission center. Especially considering that the world leaders in the development of payment systems are Russian companies today, ”says Mikhail Khazin.
What exactly does not suit the expert? The fact is that at all recent meetings (both with the president and the head of government), the use of technologies and developments of existing payment systems in the country was discussed as the main option for the NPS. First of all, the Universal Electronic Card (UEC), controlled by Sberbank. Disadvantages of the payment system "PRO100", as well as opponents of the creation of NPS on its base, really enough. Even the fact of Sberbank’s readiness to abandon the controlling stake in UEC, according to Mikhail Khazin, only shows that the state bank is trying to somehow compensate for the losses from the ambitious, expensive, but in fact failed project.
The economist believes that time and money in creating an NPS could be minimized by using the United Settlement System (LFS) as an existing non-bank credit organization. For this, it is enough that the tops - Sberbank and VTB - join the OCR, which already unites more than 100 domestic banks. In this case, a workable NPS would appear in the country in a maximum in a month.
«The liberal lobby in the government and the Central Bank of Russia is actively trying to prevent the creation of a full-fledged ruble financial system. This is clearly seen from the way Sberbank and the Central Bank agreed on the promotion of a deliberately disastrous project to create a national payment system based on the Sberbank “universal card” (using, by the way, Mastercard licenses). After it became clear that this project was not possible, it was decided to create an abstract joint-stock company, which should do from scratch what has long been done within the framework of the LFS project."- emphasizes Mikhail Khazin.
Given that the first persons of the state are interested in the NPS project, which they themselves have repeatedly stated, it is not difficult to predict that it will eventually appear in the country. After all, this question has already moved into the category of national security interests, especially in light of the possible strengthening of sanctions against Russia. However, I don’t want to find out in a few months that banks are not in a hurry to issue NPS cards en masse or our fellow citizens do not want to use them due to limited infrastructure. It is not so difficult to build a system in which only budget money (pensions, benefits, public sector wages, etc.) will be circulated. But in order to be called "national" is clearly not enough.
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