What will happen to the Russian business of the group and clients of Qiwi Bank

What will happen to the Russian business of the group and clients of Qiwi Bank

Qiwi Group Securities (MOEX: QIWI) rose sharply in the evening session of the Moscow Exchange. On February 21, depository receipts collapsed by 50%; the trading platform even had to introduce a discrete auction twice. This happened after the regulator decided to revoke the license from Qiwi Bank, after which the group’s services stopped working. However, after seven in the evening the receipts suddenly went up. In a few hours, investors were able to earn up to 35%. Is there any future for Qiwi business in Russia? Ivan Yakunin found out.

The regulator has not resorted to such measures for more than a year and a half. As the Central Bank explained, Qiwi Bank systematically violated anti-money laundering laws and conducted payments between individuals and shadow businesses, including crypto exchangers and illegal online casinos. This is not the first complaint against the organization. In 2023, the authorities banned withdrawing cash from Qiwi cards and withdrawing money from electronic wallets to bank accounts. The reason was shortcomings in the documentation. The regulator also limited operations in 2020 and 2021. Apparently, Qiwi management did not respond to the signals, says independent expert Dmitry Vishnyakov:

“The bank was known primarily for allowing the use of wallets to withdraw funds to crypto exchanges and crypto payments. I think this is the main reason for revoking the license. The company's management was repeatedly informed about this and warnings were issued. Everyone assumed this ending, so this is a kind of signal that the regulator will not look at how crypto-payments are developing today, and especially if they are used to withdraw money abroad.”

Qiwi Bank ranked 285th in terms of the volume of attracted deposits from individuals. As RBC clarifies, as of January 1, 2023, only 11 thousand rubles were kept on deposits. The accounts of individuals and legal entities, as follows from the documents, contained more than 8 billion rubles. The Central Bank believes that Qiwi Bank has enough money to pay off clients, but this takes into account the funds that will be received from the forced sale of the company’s assets as part of the liquidation or bankruptcy procedure. Managing partner of the law firm “Pleshakov, Ushkalov and Partners” Vyacheslav Ushkalov told how it will happen:

“The provisional administration is assessing the financial situation. If the bank's property is sufficient for settlements with creditors, then a forced liquidation procedure is carried out, after which the creditors receive everything, and the bank is closed. If the bank’s property is not enough for settlements with creditors, then the bank falls under bankruptcy proceedings, an arbitration manager is already appointed, and within the framework of this procedure the DIA pays depositors.”

But it is unclear what will happen to the remaining projects. In January, the Russian business was transferred to local management: the owner was replaced not only by Qiwi Bank, but also by Qiwi Wallet, Qiwi Business, the Contact money transfer system and several other assets. They now need a new operator, says Arikapital investment strategist Sergei Suverov:

“The basis of the business is settlement and payment operations, which are unthinkable without a connection to Qiwi Bank and, in general, to some kind of banking structure. An alternative is that the Russian Qiwi business will find another bank that will service its operations. From a commercial point of view, I think it has some potential. Perhaps such a bank will be found, but given the reputational risks, this may become a problematic solution. The new financial organization, due to Qiwi Bank’s connection with the shadow sector of the economy, bookmakers and cashing, may not want to spoil relations with the regulator.”

So far the company has not announced any plans. Clients were sent excerpts from banking laws and encouraged to follow updates on the Telegram channel. From 11 am until nightfall, not a single message appeared there. But a lot of interesting things happened at the evening session of the Moscow Exchange: there investors bought out the drawdown in receipts of the international group Qiwi. Brokers, however, called for refraining from transactions: the company could be left without Russian business and without money from its sale.

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