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The Federation Council approved amendments to the Federal Law “On the National Payment System” and the Federal Law “On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (Bank of Russia)” in terms of clarifying requirements for the activities of foreign payment systems and foreign payment service providers.

The main innovation is that the owners of anonymous e-wallets Yandex.Money, QIWI Wallet, WebMoney, PayPal, VK Pay and other similar systems will not be able to replenish them in cash through the payment terminals and offices of cellular operators. To do this, you need to use a bank account (which by definition can not be anonymous). Previously, such a requirement was not contained in the law, which allowed individuals to replenish their wallets in cash without providing documents.

Why did the authorities need such innovations? Here you can put forward versions of different degrees of realism:

  • anti money laundering;
  • countering anonymous purchases of illegal goods on the Internet (weapons, drugs) and ordering illegal services (spying on individuals, property damage, injury, murder);
  • opposing anonymous donations in order to strike unsuitable social movements and political activists, who often raise funds through electronic systems (for example, Yandex.Money has long been providing the FSB with information about the purse owners who made such donations);
  • promotion of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (there is more a side effect, because the current amendments with the ban on anonymous transfers do not apply to cryptocurrencies).


One of the authors of the document, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Budget and Financial Markets Nikolai Zhuravlev, said that the purpose of the law is to strengthen control over the payment services market when making cross-border remittances.

“These amendments were made at the request of the financial monitoring service, as these wallets can be used to finance the spread of drugs, terrorism, etc. Now users of anonymous wallets will be able to replenish them only with the help of a bank account, thanks to which the source of funds will be known, ”said RBC Head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market Anatoly Aksakov.

In March 2019, the ban on withdrawing cash from anonymous wallets was already in force.

Criticism of the amendments

The Association of Electronic Money and Remittance Market Participants has already prepared a statement criticizing the amendments. Why did this criticism appear already after the adoption by the Federation Council and immediately before the signing of the finished bill by the president, when it was too late to criticize something?

The answer is simple. According to Viktor Dostov, chairman of the association, the proposed amendments did not go through the basic stages of public discussion, including with market participants, restrictions were introduced during the second reading in a non-core bill and were adopted within a few days. No one had time to do anything.

The changes "were approved without due regard for their potential consequences, and the opinion of industry associations was ignored," the association said in a statement. Experts explain that all the key risks of anonymous wallets have already been minimized: wallets cannot be used for payments abroad, transfers to other individuals, cash cannot be withdrawn from an unidentified wallet. “From the very beginning of the Federal Law FZ-161 [“ On the National Payment System ”] anonymous wallets are tightly limited in terms of amounts: their balance cannot exceed 15 thousand rubles, and the total amount of transactions per month is not more than 40 thousand rubles.” - recalled the press service of Qiwi.

According to Dostov, new restrictions are completely unnecessary. They will only have a negative impact on the development of the industry, as they will impede the availability of financial services and the growth of non-cash turnover.

Judging by the experience of Belarus, which also introduced compulsory identification, “part of the system will simply leave Russia, and the national ones will stop developing,” suggested Sergey Grishunin, senior manager of the risk management department at Deloitte.

Other restrictions

In addition to de-anonymization of users of electronic payment systems, legislation is supplemented by new concepts, such as “foreign payment service provider” and “foreign payment system rules”, “information exchange service operator”, and also supplemented by provisions containing requirements for accepting electronic payment in the Russian Federation and customer service, said on the website of the Fencing Council. In particular, the above requirements include the existence of a contract between a cash transfer operator and a foreign payment service provider. It is envisaged that a money transfer operator is entitled to conclude an agreement with a foreign payment service provider only under conditions determined by the law in question. That is, only under Russian law.

Information on foreign payment service providers who have entered into the relevant agreements specified in the Federal Law are included in the list of foreign payment service providers maintained by the Bank of Russia.

The requirements for the functioning of foreign payment systems in the territory of the Russian Federation are also established. In particular, the operator is obliged to submit information about himself to the Bank of Russia for inclusion in the register of operators of foreign payment systems.

The Bank of Russia is given the right to request and receive from the separate subdivision of the operator of a foreign payment system in the territory of the Russian Federation the necessary information, including personal data, and also to send demands for the elimination of violations.

The document must also be signed by President Vladimir Putin. It will take effect after the official publication of what should happen in the coming days.

According to the Association of Participants in the Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market, over 2 billion transactions worth more than 1.7 trillion rubles are effected through e-wallets every year. About 10 million people are the users of anonymous electronic wallets, told RBC chairman of the association Viktor Dostov.

Yandex.Money has about 15 thousand new wallets every day, while the share of anonymous payments is about 10%, a company representative said. In WebMoney, all wallets are initially anonymous, because this is enough to pay for services, but later about 75% of users go through the personalization procedure, said WebMoney Development Director Peter Darakhvelidze.

According to Mediascope, Yandex.Money is the leader in the number of users among e-money services. In 2017, Yandex.Money was paid by 33% of respondents (among those who generally use electronic wallets), in 2018 - 48.5%. Over the year, the share of users increased almost 1.5 times, according to a survey. This is followed by WebMoney and PayPal - 38.9% and 38.6%, respectively. In fourth place Qiwi from 36.2%. The MTS-Money e-wallet audience is 12.1% of the total number of surveyed online payers aged 18–55.

The percentage of Russians who pay for various goods and / or services from a computer and / or smartphone at least every six months is indicated

It is difficult to say how the wording of the new bill relates to cryptocurrency owners. Looks like nothing. Probably, separate bills will be passed against them.

The volume of cryptocurrencies at the disposal of Russian citizens and the number of such citizens are not known to the authorities.
 
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