According to Central Bank statistics, the volume of payments on business cards and the average bill for such payments have been steadily falling since the beginning of hostilities in Ukraine. At the same time, according to large banks, not only the number of transactions is growing, but also the average bill and the total volume of payments. Market participants attribute the divergence in trends to a decrease in payments on customs cards, which historically had a higher average bill, and the departure of international companies that actively used business cards.
According to the Bank of Russia, in the second quarter of 2023, the volume of payments by Russian companies using business cards was the lowest in three years - 518.6 billion rubles. At the same time, back in the fourth quarter of 2021, the absolute maximum for this indicator was recorded - more than 1.28 trillion rubles. But in subsequent periods there was a systematic reduction in the volume of operations.
At the same time, the number of transactions using business cards increased. In the reporting quarter, it exceeded 138 million, setting a new record. At the same time, in the first quarter, about 120 million transactions were carried out, and a year earlier - 113 million. Against this background, there is a significant drop in the average transaction size - from 10.6 thousand rubles. in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 3.8 thousand rubles. in the second quarter of this year.
However, the largest banks do not note not only a drop in the number of transactions on business cards, but also in the volume of these transactions. According to Sberbank, turnover in trade and service enterprises (TSP) per active business card in August 2023 compared to the same period last year increased by 20%, and the share of POS turnover among business cards for seven months of 2023 increased by 3.3%.
At VTB, based on the results of the first half of the year, the volume of transactions on business cards of SME clients increased by 20% compared to last year, and the size of the average check did not change. “The main factors in the growth in the popularity of business cards this year are the general increase in business activity among entrepreneurs, the digitalization of the product, as well as the expansion of its functionality,” the bank reported.
At Alfa Bank, the average receipt for corporate cards grew by 30%. Deputy Head of the Medium and Small Business Block of PSB Kirill Tikhonov noted that “over the year, the number of active cards increased by a quarter, the number of transactions on them increased by more than 50%, and the volume of transactions in rubles increased by 100%.”
Market participants explain the discrepancy between the data of the Bank of Russia and leading Russian banks by several factors. As Leonid Nazarov, head of the Tinkoff Business product department, notes, the regulator’s statistics “also take into account the operations of legal entities to pay customs duties, for which special customs cards are used.”
According to Mr. Nazarov, usually the average receipt for customs payments is significantly higher than the average receipt for purchases through POS terminals with a business card. “At the beginning of 2022, the share of such payments in turnover exceeded 50%, and, most likely, the reduction in turnover and the fall in the average bill is associated with a drop in the share of turnover on customs cards,” says Mr. Nazarov.
In addition, the use of corporate cards by companies with foreign capital has clearly decreased. As Alexey Maslov, co-chairman of the payment systems committee of the Association of Russian Banks (ARB), explains, the use of such cards “is both part of the culture and the best level of cost control.” In particular, according to him, in many international companies there is a rule that “an employee is issued a corporate card if he has at least one business trip per year.” As a result, a decrease in the number of both companies with foreign participation and their employees could significantly affect turnover on corporate cards.
At the same time, interviewed banking experts say that this year the figure has already reached a plateau - in the first quarter it was slightly more than 520 billion rubles. To accelerate the development of the segment, regulation needs to be improved, believes Alexey Maslov. In particular, according to him, it is necessary to be able to print information on a cash receipt that companies use for accounting: “The ARB Payment Systems Committee has been discussing this issue with regulators for more than a year, and I hope that an end to the discussion can be put in the coming months."