Herman Gref stumbled over Elvira Nabiullina

The differences of the head of Sberbank German Gref with the leadership of the Central Bank are discussed both in the Kremlin and in the government.
Origin source
The parties themselves do not hide the fact that they have large differences in the regulation of Fintech. Gref wants to turn his bank into a technology giant, Nabiullina puts a stick in the wheel, saying that Russian banks need equal opportunities in the digital sphere. While the position of the Central Bank outweighs, say the sources of The Bell.

Central Bank irritates the activity of Sberbank in the digital sphere

Regulator against the idea of ​​merging Sberbank with Yandex

Hardware weight in controversial issues while more in Nabiullina

On Monday, the Central Bank launches the Fast Interbank Payment System (SBP) - 11 banks will be connected to the test mode, but the regulator intends to legally oblige all market participants to work through it. Only Sberbank objects - it already has a similar platform, and according to the Central Bank, it now accounts for 94% of all retail transfers. The regulator is going to destroy this monopoly.

Quote: "Do not push the first players, <...> in any case you can not fight with strong players," - called in the middle of January from the site of the Gaidar Forum German Gref.

These words did not refer to the government, but specifically to Elvira Nabiullina, the official of the financial and economic bloc believes. The Central Bank is “very annoyed” by Gref’s activity in everything that concerns digitalization in the banking sector, says her friend.

In addition to public discussion about the system of fast payments (SBP), there are other controversial issues. For example, the Central Bank reacted sharply negatively to last year’s news about Sberbank’s interest in buying a large package and increasing its influence on Yandex, say three The Bell interlocutors. The bank itself refuted such negotiations, but information about them The Bell was confirmed by sources, including those close to the government, the presidential administration and the regulator.

Quote: “If the largest bank merges with Yandex, small banks will have no chance at all, and the Central Bank itself will be less than Sberbank in terms of weight,” explains the position of the Central Bank close to the regulator.

“But the main problem is that much of what the Central Bank is now doing for everyone has already been successfully implemented at Sberbank,” explains the reason for the disagreement by a federal official. - Sberbank is ready to provide its platforms and services to the market, but this will mean artificially creating another monopoly - this time in digital banking. The question immediately arises: “Why not VTB or Alpha?”

Battlefield - all banks

Disagreements between Sberbank and the Central Bank in recent years have happened regularly, but now the main confrontation has developed around the SBP. Transfers from card to card - a huge segment. Only in the first 9 months of 2018, the Russians transferred about 19 trillion rubles in this way, of which almost 13 trillion fell on Sberbank’s clients.

They have long been able to quickly transfer money to each other, using only a phone number for this. Since last year, Sberbank began inviting competitors to connect to its system - Tinkoff Bank was the first. Transfer fee is 1% for customers of both banks. Sberbank does not take payments for transfers only from its customers - and that is if their cards were issued by one unit (for the rest, transfers cost 1-1.5% for the time being).

The Central Bank expects that it will be possible to reduce the cost of interbank transfers through its system: in 2019, the regulator promises not to take a fee from banks for using its system, and from 2020 to set minimum tariffs - 1-6 rubles per transaction.

At first, the Central Bank wanted to make the connection to the SBP voluntary, but Sberbank failed to convince. Then the regulator decided to legally oblige to make it the whole market. Gref last week in Davos reiterated that he considered this an “extra step”.

Quote: “We are interested in maintaining competitive conditions, [but] no one presented us with this system, we actually invented it and were the first to introduce it. This artificial quasi-competition by means of a regulator does not seem optimal to me, ”he said (quoted by TASS).

Whose hardware weight is more?

While the advantage in this dispute on the side of Nabiullina, consider the interlocutors of The Bell. “The regulator manages to restrain Gref’s monopoly ambitions,” says a senior federal official. The Central Bank is trying to develop the banking market and fintech in a comprehensive and balanced way, he argues, “it’s not the regulator’s fault that state-owned banks are now of such monstrous proportions.”

Doubts that the Central Bank will be able to oblige everyone, including Sberbank, to work through his system is not enough, agrees another government official. The Central Bank is also confident that the amendments to the legislation initiated for this will pass successfully through the State Duma.

Other large banks - not only private, but also VTB - this time also on the side of the regulator. They themselves are starting to come up with technological ways to limit Sberbank’s share of the market - for example, they have offered a solution to the problem of “wage slavery”. “Everything that is being done to fight Sberbank is good for competition,” says the co-owner of one of the large private banks, although he admits that Gref does a lot to develop the market.

The head of Sberbank himself believes that in this case the regulator itself will become a monopolist in the market. “When you create an artificial monopoly, introducing the state to some fields, you can say in advance that you are creating an uncompetitive model,” he lamented at the same Gaidar forum. Sberbank’s press service did not comment further on questions about the differences between the bank and the Central Bank.

“There is some slyness when a player who, by virtue of his size, speaks almost exclusively to dictate conditions to the market,” says an official in the financial and economic bloc of the government. Sberbank is the successor of the Soviet savings bank with a huge client base, an extensive network of branches, plus the whole bank serves a large number of public sector payroll projects, he recalls.

Context. Disagreements between Sberbank and the Central Bank in the sphere of fintech in recent years have happened regularly, but now the interests of the bank and the regulator have collided in several big directions at once.

Back in 2014, Sberbank really hoped that a national payment card system would be created on the basis of its PRO100 project, but after a couple of years the project had to be closed - the Central Bank decided to make such a system from scratch (this is how the World card appeared).

Another controversial point was related to cyber security: the Central Bank launched its center for monitoring and exchanging information on cyber threats in the banking sector (FinCERT) in 2015. Last summer, a similar project of a commercial platform was presented by the structure of Sberbank Bizon. The regulator again insisted that banks must be connected to its system without fail.

Last fall, Sberbank launched its own biometric customer data collection system and, in terms of growth rates, its base is several times ahead of a similar state base. Both projects are aimed at ensuring that as many banking services as possible can be obtained by clients without entering the branch. Banks are obliged to join the Central Bank system: from this year, 20% of their branches must accept data in the Unified biometric system, and from the next - everything.