Guest Post #2 – Overview of Social Media and Banking in Russia & CIS (by Daniel Gusev) – Part 2

This is part 2 of Daniel Gusev’s guest post where Daniel shares his views on digital engagement and social media in banking in Russia and the CIS region.

There can be several explanations for these trends:
* Internet is for the general public and social Web services are for a limited geeks that miss the bank’s definition of a target client. For example, 14-25 year old user of Twitter or a social network (this user group forms a dominant part of social Web service in CIS) is missed entirely by banks – because they do not have a stable and high income.
* Customers that are interested in financial services – are users of supermarket Web sites (like. These sites drive big audiences and banks have already embraced these sites – hosting ads banners, giving detailed descriptions of their products and offering their specialists to host Q&A sessions.
* User-base of Web 2.0 services doesn’t seem to be big enough for banks to feast upon it. Although bank’s aren’t actively promoting their «digital identities» the stats of their Twitter accounts and blog’s counters don’t look promising for now [See stats on Twitter below]

Anyway, the importance of integration of social Web services into the bank’s communication platform is paramount – the near triple digit growth of social Web services users from CIS drives more banks – but what’s needed is a strategy to create a winner’s case.

There are already several good examples of bank’s using social Web services:
Uralsib, one of Russia’s biggest universal banks – acts as a virtual bank in a FarmVille application inside one of Russia’s two biggest social networks – Vkontakte. It’s been reported by the bank’s PR team that the bank’s virtual services were used by about 1 million users of the app’ ~7 million base. It’s hard to tell, though, of how many people will visit the real branch, the approach is quite innovative.
Smolenskiy Bank – a top-250 institution and regional leader – has started a full-scale social Web presence with a blog at a popular platform [], a society in a social network [ ] (slide 3) and a Twitter account [ ]. All this gave him a big influx of users to his Web-site and helped to expand channels to promote its services.


There are several IF’s that can greatly assist banks embracing the blogo-sphere and Twitter-universe.

* Expansion of direct banking users: engagement into social networking services is good when a bank has a good installed base of remote banking channels users;
* Boom of prepaid and checking account based products. I personally expect banks to becoming more active in promoting current accounts business in Russia – that can give a boost to associated products that can be easily marketed to Web audiences;
* The banks will learn to use social Web services will change their approach to customers via these channels – that will in response, drive up customers interest in bank’s services.

Given the already solid number of financial institutions (well over 1,000 astracked by Visible Banking) that blog, tweet, and publish video content on YouTube – the presence of banks from Russia and other countries of CIS is small. Yet these western practices creates the momentum and a defferred effect can bring a great number of good examples on how customers can get advice on new products and get service via these Web based channels. What is needed is a new thinking on how they can be integrated into the communication and customer service platform.

Social Media Initiatives
* Twitter: @alfa_bank (joined August 24th 2009), @NOMOSBANK (joined November 8th 2008), @privatbank (joined January 31th 2009), @SmolenskyBank (joined October 7th 2009), @bankvtb24 (joined April 28th 2009)
* Blogs: Alfa-Bank’s Money Blog,, Smolenskiy Bank’s Live Journal, Privat Bank’s Privat Blog, Project Financing Bank – (abandoned account)
* Youtube: VTB24 –

Please note that all the links are available in the corresponding categories of the Visible Banking Directory: Social Media Initiatives in Financial Services.

What do you think?

Written by Daniel Gusev

Innovation Mgr in respect of remote channels strategy & emerging payments platforms. Honed knowledge & skills on mobile & proximity payments payments schemes, offering advice on traditional (ATM, Internet) & new ways of offering transaction services to top-10 banks in Russia.

Visible Banking Twitter Watch #16 – December 2009: 933 Accounts / 46 Countries / 385,918+ Followers / 13,875 Lists – Top 10s Banks / Credit Unions / Insurance

Best Social Media & Banking Tweets: 11-17 January 2010