How to kill small business in Russia: an example of electronic money

    banned electronic moneyEvery time I write material on a website, I have to explain that I work in the IT field as a lawyer. This is very important, since IT, especially in Russia, requires a certain qualification and specialization. And in fact, not so many people are engaged in depth in this particular industry, especially electronic payments and e-commerce (perhaps I would single out Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg and Moscow in the first place).

    In this article, I do not want to offend anyone at large Russian companies, or even less so representatives of public authorities. Its goal is completely different: to present material to society in order to reveal market trends based on an analysis of legislation before and after its adoption, that is, to highlight a practical extract of legal norms, which, in my opinion, are created in isolation from both real legal reality and those principles on which should be based the development of the legal system (not even the legal system) as a whole.

    The beginning of an era

    Surely everyone knows that electronic money appeared in Russia a long time ago: in 1998 in the form of WebMoney. Then Yandex.Money entered the arena, and by the beginning of 2000 the first major exchanger was born - Robox (then Ocean sold to the bank and closed in 2015). Actually, Robox gave birth to one of the first aggregators - Robokassa, and a little later Z-Payment, Pay-U, their brothers from Ukraine (Interkassa, W1) and so on entered the arena. The listing of everyone and everything is beyond the scope of this article.

    Aggregators had one definite plus: with their help it was not necessary to conclude 10-20-30 agreements, but immediately connect the payment acceptance and at the end of the reporting period receive one act (as a rule, everyone worked under an agent agreement, which is disclosed in several articles in the Civil Code of the Russian Federation). If someone is sure that this is a relative plus, then you should study the practice, which will say how accountants (and lawyers) are trying to simplify the eternal workflow. Or let's dwell on the fact that it was always important for my clients.

    The disadvantages of these systems are obvious.. But still, for small and even medium-sized businesses, when an online store is opened by 1-3 people (albeit in practice a large number) or as an additional point of sale, this approach solved a lot of problems, both organizational, legal and accounting. Yes and no one forbade to conclude direct agreements during development.

    For example, with the same WebMoney, calculations were carried out similarly to settlements with checks, and this is a separate accounting (in addition, electronic checks in the Russian legal system are a phenomenon more likely to be prohibited by law than vice versa), which, by the way, in the provinces, not everyone was ready do right away. Similarly with the agency agreement: I still remember how the articles on the topic were stamped, what is the agent’s income and how it should take into account income and expenses, which the Ministry of Finance also said more than once, for example, in letter No. 03-11 of 04.16.12 -06/2/56.

    But this was not the main “problem” of aggregators: agents are always more efficient than large suppliers or manufacturers. That is why the agency contract is so well developed in the industrialized (and then it is) developed countries: the USA, Great Britain, Germany, etc.

    Yes, agents take their margin, but this is a normal process, taking into account the fact that customers need to be looked for, the product should be competitive in some respects with all the consequences. In Russia, agents (especially because of the initial stage of terminal development) began to be treated like parasites, although the same aggregators, even Robox, Z-Payment (I worked with these two more, so it’s easier to navigate) created much simpler connection scheme stores.

    If someone is not in the know, I’ll say that the contract with WebMoney and especially Yandex.Money for small (primarily for them), beginning online stores has always been difficult (I already hear the screams of the opposite side, but for me there is a fact fact). The third giant, Qiwi, created its shop service, but it was later, after the first consolidation stage, when in 2010 they sent letters to everyone that the contracts were terminated, but at the same time during the year when someone wanted to replenish some wallet (except WebMoney initially, their replenishment was at 5%), I received an inscription that payment is not possible, but with the help of Qiwi you can pay thousands of providers. If you recall that on terminals with a small bird, you entered authorization via phone in the logo, as well as with online payment, it was an unprecedented example of gaining a customer base through unfair competition. But, since even RBC and Yandex.Money did not go to court and no decision was made (this is by the way about the small number of good personnel in it jurisprudence), then within the framework of this article I will say that this is only my opinion and no more. Blaming someone is beyond my competence.

    And at that time (2010 - 2011), when the market was on the rise stage, lawmakers, with the supply of very specific lobby groups, began to promote the now known Federal Law No. 161 “On the National Payment System”. I still remember how his prototype was discussed at “electronic commerce 2009” in Moscow, the first industry conference in which I personally participated. Then the discussions came down, of course, to the fact that there are enough norms on the market and a separate law is not needed. But this is for the market, but for the state, which works within the framework of the only imperative method and public law, it turned out the opposite.

    And further

    Of course, the big players then started: especially banks. Indeed, according to Federal Law No. 161, all payment decisions should have become either an NPO (non-bank credit organization) or the bank itself. But small and even medium-sized businesses did not have that kind of money. In addition, in addition to the authorized capital (10 and 100 million rubles, respectively), it was also necessary to comply with the requirements of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, which are not more stringent than the requirements of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, in which aggregators should already be in accordance with the amendments to the Federal Law “On Countering Legalization ...” but the requirements of the Central Bank are much more formal - they, if someone is not in the know, are the basis for the recall of most of the licenses of banks .

    At the same time, in this case, an example of MasterBank is indicative: more than once I had to deal with connecting to this structure (and also to Russlavbank via the Contact system, but only 2 times).

    It has always been a very long, bureaucratically unpleasant process, sometimes taking up to 6 months (if we are talking about small shops). And in this sense, aggregators have always won: their market was not so regulated, but at the same time, guided by general norms and aspirations not to lose their own money, they developed good antifraud solutions. You should not think that everyone did this and, in order not to make hasty statements, I will leave this for a separate analysis. I will only add that it was still more difficult with Contact: I had to fly to them for the first time after a six-month correspondence in order to prove that my client and I were living people.

    Here I note one obvious absurdity, which for some reason both my colleagues and industry experts as a whole are trying to avoid: banks for 2011 have already worked out the entire mechanism to combat fraudulent transactions. All necessary funds insurance tools have already been developed. So why not use them to ensure the safety of citizens and organizations that worked with electronic money, including through aggregators?

    The answer in my opinion is obvious: this whole notorious system from a combination of Federal Laws No. 151, 152, 115, as well as banking legislation from the Federal Law “On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation” to “On Banks ...” and related decisions (letters and other regulatory, but not always legal acts) The Central Bank of the Russian Federation does not work and was created only with the purpose of full control of the banks themselves, and not to create an effective system to combat black cash and bank transfer. At least the opposite has not been proved in practice.

    Actually, after the beginning of the mass revocation of licenses (in 2013) from banks, this was fully confirmed: legal entities lost their money for many months (for example, in Irkutsk when the local bank “Radian” was closed for a year), and in some cases forever. Citizens up to 750,000 are insured. But who prevented the introduction of this insurance system without Federal Law No. 161? In addition, the amounts above are not insured and things just started when the same VIP depositors of Master Bank began to return their hard-earned money (in this case, I do not care about their money, but about the fact of black holes in the legislation in view of the inept work of the executive and legislative, and often judicial).

    The essence of the matter is simple: in spite of this very complex process, multifaceted checks, MasterBank was one of the first to be processed between Sberbank, Alfa Bank, Uralsib and other lucky all-Russian race with the slogan “who will close faster” and more profitable (because banks are closed, and assets remain, however, this is also a separate issue).

    The question is, if there is no difference, then why pay more, and even longer?

    In addition, you should not whitewash those who are in gray: Qiwi shares after the Central Bank announced the fight against laundering through the terminals (what else to do during the man-made crisis, how not to pump money by any means?), Fell - just collapsed , which is very significant. You can’t deceive numbers.

    stock qiwi

    About what's wrong

    Moreover, Federal Law No. 161 was developed as a result of the most terrible legal technique, which had many negative ones. However, the norms themselves also did not become something positive. I will give only a number of examples, since their list is simply huge.

    The very concept of electronic money: it is simply not in the law. More precisely, there is this: “electronic money means money that has been previously provided by one person (the person who provided the money) to another person who takes into account information about the amount of money provided without opening a bank account (to the obligated person) to fulfill the person’s monetary obligations, who provided the funds, before third parties and in respect of which the person who provided the funds has the right to transmit orders exclusively using electronic redstv payment ", but it is not the concept, but these signs of actions that are needed in order to place the process of the emergence of electronic money. That is why the law then made an insert on deferred payment.

    But all this came back to the legislator where I expected - in digital currencies: already in 2009 there was bitcoin and then it was interesting how the legislator would link it with the Federal Law No. 161. It turned out - no way. Thus, he, the legislator (lawyers actually call this euphemism a very wide range of entities, some of which at least somehow create laws, and others adopt, especially indicatively this is precisely within the framework of this law: he read with a bang) ", The benefit in our time is easy to track, although none of the recipients even understood the essence of regulated phenomena) did not separate digital (as they will be designated by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation later) or, as they are known more, crypto money from electronic.

    When the corresponding letter came out (its brief review is in my joint article on Habr) Yandex.Money immediately began to explain that electronic is not digital money and so on. And it was necessary to do this in the law, as it should be, once an industry act is adopted. But, as you know, in Russia there is no single state strategy, therefore the legislative acts are patches, and not a new model line to expand the old collection.

    About mobile phones

    Another consequence of the adoption of this federal law was the fact that mobile operators lobbied some articles for themselves and began a direct opposition to banks. In particular, the online terminal ruru with its predatory interest (and indeed the mobile payment service from 8% -15% is sometimes even higher, with acquiring of 2-3% or even 4% cannot be considered otherwise), the creation of MTS bank, which is much later co-breeding of a megaphone and kiwi (and then a beeline) - all these are links of absolutely one chain.

    Of course, this world trend was not created by our big three, it only follows him: when Facebook itself indicates the direction of a crazy, in the sense of security, deal with Whats'up everything is clear to everyone. The only question is that the banks that thought that they would heal after the Federal Law No. 161 are even better - oh, how much they were mistaken.

    After all, not only electronic payments suffered: Mig, Contact, Rapida left the arena (the latter acquired as a result through the "Discovery", which in my opinion should be discussed separately, Qiwi), my favorite (also now in the ubiquitous "Discovery" ) and some regional NPOs that served as payment centers for small payments.

    At the same time, mobile operators: a) increased the cost of payment SMS (payments were answered by authorization through applications and other innovations); b) complicated the procedure for not direct conclusion of contracts; c) set the price for mobile payment, which nobody can actually bring down, since the industry is monopolized (apparently people like to pay more, but I'm used to counting money: for me the extra 5% is 5,000 out of every 100,000 rubles, and this is an hour of work, I would like to value my time, taking into account the possible lived 60-70 years, it is not as small as it seems, especially excluding sleep, movement and everything that is not directly connected with difficulty).

    As a result, the consumer was given the “as is” service, as in a well-known license. And everyone is happy, although when it came to the fact that aggregators wind 0.5-5%, criticism seemed constructive to many. Today, the rationale for mobile payment is higher in cost than bank acquiring, personally, in my opinion, no one has provided. This is the notorious IMHO, which was developed on the basis of attending many conferences from Ulan-Ude to Tyumen and from Tyumen to Moscow.

    Another negative aspect of the adopted law, perhaps the most negative, is the necessary monopolization: Yandex.Money sold with a bang to Sberbank (although this is the best deal on the market), Prokhorov freed himself from RBC without annoyance (and who knows who, when sell); Telemoney immediately left, creating a good cashback system (it was possible to make purchases in a special store with the returned funds); Wellpay also closed, although his marketing was initially aimed at spending money, rather than building up the base and the list goes on. But the worst part is that many aggregators and even payments either went to the gray segment (for example, Okpay or PerfectMoney), thereby the state lost taxes, or were given under the wing of the bank (from the not widely known MainPay to the RFI bank). Only a few funds were enough to create NPOs: coin, rbc,

    But in the end, the same RBC turned into a regular processing center, however, like a coin. What does this mean for consumers and the market as a whole?

    1. small companies - always the self-employment of the population, that is, programmers, economists, etc. who worked in them actually lost their jobs, or had to become employees of banks, but this is not to everyone's liking;
    2. large companies actually killed their achievements: electronic money taught customers to pay online (and in Russia it was very difficult to do), but in fact, many wallets returned to the card system (you can look at the full name of Qiwi, Yandex’s policy , with the exception only VMs remained to some extent, and even then under their own manual bank). So, instead of our own, we again remained in the Visa / MasterCard system. How this ends is clearly seen in the creation of the notorious World maps. Simply put: we killed the infrastructure, and then in its place we began to make in the image of a "competitor" the same Visa and Mastercard, instead of giving birth to not only a mouse on the global market, but something of our own.
    3. large companies themselves finally came to the conclusion that aggregation is a property that a consumer needs, and not something far-fetched, some kind of layer. Look at Yandex.Checkout - back in 2014, they stated that aggregators were a world evil, and already in 2015 they became the largest aggregator. Qiwi and even the clumsy WebMoney, the hammer PayU didn’t leave this road at all. Processing centers, for example PayOnline, also for some reason began to aggregate WM, qiwi and so on. I wonder why, since it is so bad and disadvantageous to anyone?

    The whole question was not in form, but in the subjects: as soon as 3 large players and several smaller ones remained in the arena, everything began to suit everyone. Here are just all the innovations that small players could offer to the market - at best, remained chips inside large services, where these same chips are lost against the general background. And most importantly, competition has dropped 2-3 levels lower. For example, not so long ago I began to use TKS Bank actively. And what did he discover? With a replenishment of more than 300,000, there is a commission of as much as 2%. And this is normal, but when representatives of small business did it, it was said otherwise.

    Yes, of course, major players offered, for example, Android and iOS applications and other innovations, but why not choose for the market what is good and what is bad? The question, of course, is rhetorical.

    The most important thing that we lose in such cases is hope: most recently, the Central Bank issued a statement that bitcoin is absolutely dangerous. Today, kiwi is ready to release its crypto ruble. Is Kiwi ready, but small and even medium-sized companies? Many almost immediately turned off the business, realizing that arguing with the regulator, which even operates outside the law (at that time), is useless (although they even tried to sign an online petition). And to revive the once abandoned is not the same as creating something new.

    In a word, we ourselves set obstacles, which later led to the need for amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses and other legislative acts, while we could be on the cutting edge of progress: that was basically all. It is not for nothing that the same WebMoney created WMX, and Yandex.Money was one of the first to talk about the prospects of blockchain technologies. About their third brother has already said.

    For me, as a lawyer, all this is very embarrassing: the fact is that my first specialization is international law. And I did a lot of work when I analyzed the nature of electronic money. This area for me was an oasis in inert Russian law. And not onlyIt seemed to me like this: here, on Habré, there is V. Kolosov (who described in great detail the agreement of this site with the authors) - you can also find a lot of information on the analysis of electronic money on its resource.

    What is the result?

    As a result, we get legislation that changes to the immediate needs of various power circles or monopolies, and as a result, it becomes filled with continuous gaps, which no one is trying to eliminate. But at any opportunity, fines and other types of punishments are introduced: it feels like they want to prove to me, a person with a higher education, that this education itself is zilch, and all the principles of private law are a fiction of the evil West, and not what we ourselves accepted in 1990 and develop to this day. And all this is called - "do not interfere with small business development." I don’t know why, but I don’t think so.

    PS I personally did not lose from the described process, but even won, but this does not mean that it is good for me. But for me, however pathetic it may sound, the truth in this case is more expensive than money.

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