Sberbank fights back for the countryside

Dominic O’Neill
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There are good strategic reasons for Sberbank to be concerned about the growth of such operations as Tinkoff and Home Credit: and good reason for a counter-attack. Tinkoff, Home Credit and Russian Standard are all at their strongest outside the main cities: regions where Sberbank, as the former state savings bank, has in some cases had almost a monopoly.

"For me the real dynamism in retail is the smaller cities, the frontiers," says Denis Bugrov, Sberbank’s head of strategy. "Historically banks focused on the big cities. It’s in the big cities where most of the competition is."

Point-of-sales lending is particularly well suited to serving the smaller towns: at its most basic it just requires a salesperson and a laptop. "We are one of the...