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Russian two go mobile to boost retail returns

Tinkoff Mobile targets middle class with premium service; Sberbank offers free package to cut telecoms bill.

Russia’s most successful incumbent and challenger retail banking players have added mobile phone services to their product offerings in a bid to ramp up returns.

Online financial services provider Tinkoff Bank and state-controlled giant Sberbank are currently rolling out mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), after launches late last year. Both are using the network and infrastructure of Tele2, Russia’s fourth-largest mobile operator.

Sberbank’s mobile service is targeted at the lender’s existing clients, who comprise around half of all retail customers in Russia. Called Let’s Talk, it offers a package of free minutes and data via a mobile app and is designed to slash the bank’s own telecoms costs. At present, Sberbank spends around $100 million a year sending text messages to customers.

By contrast, Tinkoff is looking to attract new customers with its mobile offering, which is aimed at the premium market.


Oliver Hughes, CEO of Tinkoff

“Our target customers are travellers, economically active and socially mobile in all senses of the word – in other words, the Russian middle class,” says Oliver Hughes, Tinkoff’s chief executive.

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