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SBERCARD - card payment system


As the biggest banking institution in the country, based on the number of private and corporate clients as well as infrastructure, the Savings Bank (Sberbank) of the Russian Federation intended to introduce a secure, reliable and profitable card payment system guaranteeing the successful functioning in every region of the country and the possibility to continuously expand the system. Meeting these objectives, neither a magnetic card based system nor a system requiring online authorization at the point of sale proved viable.



In 1993 the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation decided to deploy a project based on the BGS SmartCard Payment Platform in order to profit from the advantages of cashless electronic technology. The pilot project provided 3,000 smart cards to some of the Sberbank customers. The cardholders could use their cards for basic financial transactions (funds deposit, cash withdrawal, account statement, etc) in two main cities of the Russian Federation: Moscow and St.Petersburg. The bank was aiming at “the successful attraction of funds from the public, offering payment and cash services to physical as well as to juridical persons as its main objective within its retail policy”.


Pioneering the Russian Payment Market


About 85% of all funds deposited in commercial banks throughout the country (in more than 230 million accounts) are concentrated within the Sberbank’s network. The Sberbank is the only bank in the Russian Federation with a governmental guarantee of preservation and repayment of citizens‘ deposits – therefore the bank could only use a card payment system whose successful functioning would be guaranteed throughout Russia.


The BGS SmartCard Payment Platform has proved to be the turn-key solution that met the strict requirements of the Savings Bank of the Russian Federation. In 1995, the Executive Board of the Savings Bank decided to introduce the BGS SmartCard Payment Platform in 16 regions of Russia. In 1997, the Savings Bank‘s Board issued a resolution on introducing the system in all regions of Russia.


Smart Payments from White Russia to Vladiwostok


The system is one of the world‘s largest interbank payment systems. The Sbercard has become an item of everyday life and is accepted in various business environments such as networks of trade and service enterprises like supermarkets, retail shops, petrol stations, air cargo and transport companies, wholesale companies and online brokerage. It is in operation since more than 15 years with more than 5,000,000 smart cards issued.


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