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Russia is going to create its own cash dispensing machines

The Central Bank has presented a “road map” for bringing domestic ATMs to the market. According to it, the first samples will go to banks for testing this autumn, and production batches – in the first quarter of 2023. However, according to experts, a significant portion of ATM components are not produced in Russia, so the devices will be produced on the principle of screwdriver assembly and will be dependent on imported components.

Kommersant newspaper learned that on September 9, a meeting of the Cash Circulation Council of the Bank of Russia, chaired by Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Sergei Belov, was held. They discussed the problems of import substitution in the work of banks with cash. According to a Kommersant source, the council presented a “road map” for the creation and market launch of domestic ATMs.

According to the document, two Russian manufacturers – BFS and SAGA – this autumn will provide the largest banks to test the first samples of their products.

If it is successful, it will begin mass production of ATMs, and in the first quarter of next year the banks will receive several hundred Russian devices.

As explained to Kommersant in the Central Bank, the council includes members of the cash circulation. “This platform discusses issues on the development of the ATM industry, including import substitution, the dialogue involves both domestic manufacturing firms and buyers of equipment”, – explained in the Bank of Russia. They clarified that they discussed the demand for counting and sorting machines, ATMs, validators and formation of technical requirements for them.

As far as the ATMs are concerned, according to Alexei Voilukov, the Vice President of the Association of the Banks of Russia, the council discussed the timetable for the localized, import-substituted version: when and what steps will be taken.

Voylukov is cautious in his estimates of the timing of domestic ATMs entering the market. “In the first half of 2023 the first versions will be worked out, piloted, and from the middle of the year it is quite possible to enter the industrial production and supply of domestic ATMs already for all banks,” he says.

However, according to the expert, even after entering the market with serial batches of ATMs, their manufacturers will continue to work on further localization, in stages over the next two years.

This is an important caveat, because, according to experts, it is technically impossible to create a fully domestic ATM, localized in Russia by 100%. Kommersant source said that making the body, the mechanical part of the ATM structure in the country is realistic, but the electronic stuffing “for the most part in Russia is not produced and is unlikely to be soon. So the first Russian ATMs, said the interlocutor “Kommersant”, most likely will be similar to machines produced by screwdriver assembly – domestic housing with imported contents in a greater or lesser degree of localization.

According to the head of the association “Financial Innovations” Roman Prokhorov, the production of ATMs – a fairly high-tech industry, to ensure quick import substitution in it will not work, so we will have to take advantage of existing opportunities for imports, including “parallel”. The creation of a truly domestic ATM – the horizon is not months, but years. “Until then, banks will be forced to use imported analogues or variants of screwdriver assembly,” he is sure. Thus, Sberbank already has a contract for the supply of ATMs from China, VTB is testing Chinese devices and, if the pilot period is successful, will massively introduce them by the end of the year.

Dmitry Vishnyakov, an independent expert in the payment card market, believes that there is no urgent need to build Russian production of ATMs at all. “Cash withdrawal is a service that cardholders use less and less often,” he explains. The expert specifies that multifunctional devices that can combine the function of cash withdrawal with many others and provide access to financial services to citizens from regions with low internet and mobile penetration will be more relevant for Russian banks.

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Written by Medvedev

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