If you are considering targeting the Russian audience, one of the first hurdles to overcome is how to deal with the local online payment methods. Credit cards have started to be distributed but they are expensive, with high interest rates, activation charges and a general lack of transparency in the charges. Many students and employees are now receiving debit cards or restricted credit cards, which let them withdraw and spend their student loans or wages but can not be used online.
To cover this gap in the market, many turn to online payments systems such as Yandex Money and WebMoney. Yandex is reported to be signing up 3000 new users each day and WebMoney now claims to have 5m users. There are still issues with these systems, transferring money to and from them is hardly convenient. Dedicated top-up machines have sprung up in shops and supermarkets which allow Russians to transfer cash to a range of services, from WebMoney to their mobilephone. Other methods include scratch cards or money transfers via the banks or post offices. Yandex has recently announced a partnership scheme with Russian banks, to allow the same functionality at their ATMs.
DGCmagazine.com has covered WebMoney in depth for their April magazine and I would recommend it to anyone looking to trade in Russia. WebMoney are very open to relationships with foreign companies and this magazine contains a good introduction to their service.
View the April Edition of DGC Magazine (free PDF)
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