3 Aug 2018 14:11

Post Bank to expand branch network into sparsely populated areas

VLADIVOSTOK. Aug 3 (Interfax) - Russia's Post Bank plans to expand its presence in Russia's regions, starting up operations in localities with low populations, First Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board Georgi Gorshkov said in an interview with Interfax.

"The Far East has been selected as the pilot region where we plan to organize services for residents of townships with populations below 500 people," he said.

Post Bank plans to open offices in 200 of the roughly 450 Russian Post branches currently located in Primorsky territory by the end of 2018, he said.

"We are installing at the post offices ATMs or terminals that can be used for cash withdrawals and deposits, and also payment of postal services. At present, Post Bank is represented in 40 localities [in Primorsky territory], including small and remove localities. Next year we will ramp up this development," Gorshkov said.

In October 2017, the Russian Far Eastern Development Ministry approached the Finance Ministry with a proposal on development of banking services in the Far East due to difficulties getting cash and accessing services in remote, sparsely populated territories. Residents of a number of remote districts must travel to district centers in order to access banking services, including cash withdrawals. "For example, in Khabarovsk territory, the distance to the nearest ATMs for areas where banking services are not provided ranges from 7 to 180 kilometers," the ministry said.

The ministry proposed allocating subsidies to existing banks in the Far Eastern Federal District with the goal of stimulating their operations in remove and sparsely populated areas. It also proposed organizing cash access points at Russian Post branches, installing ATMs or payment terminals. In addition, it called for discussing expansion of Post Bank operations using post offices, primarily in those districts lacking banking services.

Post Bank is a subsidiary of VTB and Russian Post, created in 2016 on the basis of Leto Bank.

Post Bank was the 27th biggest Russian bank by assets as of the end of the second quarter of 2018 according to the Interfax-100 ranking compiled by the Center for Economic Analysis.