The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Russia’s Unistream Bank, which specializes in money transfers, said that it has seen an increase in remittances since Moscow started operations in Ukraine and plans to start instant remittances to India, Turkey and countries in Africa.
Kyrgan Kudyarov said in an interview with Reuters that Unistream recorded a fivefold jump in money transfers from Russia in July, compared to the previous year, after Western Union, the world’s largest money transfer company, left Russia.
The problem of access to funds became acute for many Russians after Western Union Co left Russia or their cards issued by US payment card companies Visa Inc and Mastercard ceased operating outside Russia shortly after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24. .
“Migration also had an effect, with some Russian citizens leaving the country, and a significant part of them to neighboring countries,” Kudyarov said.
Dozens of Russian citizens left the country after February 24 for various reasons, including fear of conscription into the army or due to relocation of their companies amid unprecedented financial and economic sanctions imposed by the West to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.
Kudyarov said Unistream has seen a rise in remittances to Armenia and Georgia in recent months, adding that there has been an increase in remittances to almost all CIS countries since late February.
“Our customer flows have begun to change, the sender’s image has changed. Previously, the main customers were foreign migrant workers, but now Russian citizens also send remittances,” Kudyarov said.
Unistream, which made a profit of 800 million rubles ($13.27 million) in the first half of this year, launched remittances to the Czech Republic and Germany in August and plans to expand its geographic presence.
Unistream customers can now make instant money transfers to 10 countries outside the CIS, including the UK, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Israel, and transfer the equivalent of $10,000 per month without having to open an account.
Kudyarov said the bank was in talks with its counterparts in Turkey to start transferring funds as soon as September and was looking for new partners in Kazakhstan to transfer funds to cards there.
Unistream is also in talks with African countries and India to make money transfers there.
“With the departure of Western Union, countries far abroad are left completely without transfer systems, a vacancy,” Kudyarov said.
(1 dollar = 60.3,000 rubles)
(Written by Andre Ostroch; Editing by Susan Fenton)