Russian state-owned bank VTB (VTBR.MM) will launch a digital bank within the mobile messaging app of leading social network VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook, as Moscow seeks technological solutions to disrupted banking transfers.
Western providers Google Pay and Apple Pay restricted access to their services after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022. That made operations with banks abroad particularly challenging as many bank cards stopped working overseas and Russia was disconnected from global payment systems.
“VTB is focused on developing digital channels and alternative formats for servicing clients,” deputy president-chairman of VTB’s management board, Anatoly Pechatnikov, said at a briefing. “The development of our own technology is especially relevant in the context of geopolitical risks and international restrictions.”
The digital bank will enable customers to carry out everyday financial transactions such as money transfers, some bill payments and mobile phone top-ups, within the VKontakte app. Clients will only be able to access it on mobile.