Russian Internet, Telecom And Bank Giants Experiment With Square-Like Payment Systems

Last month, Yandex.Dengi (Yandex.Money), the electronic currency division of the Russian search giant Yandex, started testing a smartphone-based bank card payment terminal in Moscow taxis.

This new payment method, named ‘Yandex Kassa,’ is available to any Visa or MasterCard card holders, and does not require users to have a Yandex Money account, explained Yandex.Dengi PR manager Asya Melkumova in an exchange with East-West Digital News.

The project is now in its experimental phase, with just four taxis involved so far. “But later, [the Yandex Kassa terminals] could be deployed in up to 300 taxis,” Yandex stated. The company is promoting these readers as “lighter and cheaper than standard bank card terminals.”

Yandex’s initiative is not the first Square-like system in Russia. In August, MTS, a major mobile operator, launched iPay, in association with Privatbank. This small mobile payment terminal can be purchased in the operator’s retail outlets in Moscow and the Moscow region for as little as 150 rubles (approximately $5), the Russian business information agency Prime reported. Privatbank hopes to sell some 100,000 devices during the first year.

‘Pay-me,’ another device launched last month, is more expensive (1,600 rubles or a little more than $50). It is distributed by Beeline Business, the B2B division of Vimpelcom, another leading mobile operator, but can be used by subscribers of any mobile operator.

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