Russian IT companies go into fintech: Forbes
Russian tech giants Yandex, Mail.ru Group, Ozon and Wildberries are developing their own fintech services in an
expansion that could put them in stiff competition with the country’s leading banking institutions, Forbes
NASDAQ-listed Yandex, which has been described as Google, Amazon, Uber and Spotify rolled into one, provides
services ranging from music streaming to express grocery delivery. Yandex has ended two joint ventures in ecommerce and
payment with state lender Sberbank (now renamed Sber) and negotiations to buy Russia’s digital-only Tinkoff Bank
last year did not end in a deal. Now, Yandex has decided to go at fintech alone. While the company has disclosed few
details, fintech promises to be an important topic for Yandex this year as the company continues to seek ways to launch
financial services either organically or through mergers and acquisitions, according to analysts at Sova Capital.
Email and online service provider Mail.ru Group recently announced that it has signed on to create two joint ventures in
payment and finance with USM holding, Jack Ma’s Ant Group, Russian cell phone operator Megafon and the Russian
Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The values of the payment and financial joint ventures are estimated at $150mn and $200mn
respectively, according to a Goldman Sachs analytical note.
Two of Russia’s leading online marketplaces have also entered the fintech race. E-commerce giant Ozon, which has
been called the “Amazon of Russia” and had a wildly successful IPO in the United States last November, has
been expanding fintech services for buyers and sellers on its platform. These include Ozon Credit microfinance loans to
consumers, the Ozon.Invest lending platform for marketplace sellers and the Ozon.Card cashback debit card – the
first offer of its kind from a Russian retailer and which also became available in digital format in December.
Meanwhile, the marketplace Wildberries has just purchased a bank to advance its payment services.
The boom in e-commerce during the pandemic has given a major boost to fintech development, particularly among large
retailers, according to analysts cited by Forbes. Digital payment is a key component of online shopping, and online
retailers that can offer a seamless payment experience are more likely to increase customer loyalty, which will bring in
And it’s not just tech companies edging into fintech as consumer activity increasingly moves online. Walmart, one
of the largest retailers in the United States, has launched a fintech start-up that will offer online banking services.
The fact that Walmart invited two senior Goldman Sachs bankers to lead the initiative underscores the new challenge that
banks face as tech innovators edge into their traditional turf.
At the end of the day, the success of fintech services provided by technology companies will depend on how well they can
serve their customers – from the convenience of their product offering to the speed and quality of product
integration. The examples from Russia provide one test case of whether tech companies will be able to rise to the