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Russian banks cut loyalty programs

A number of domestic banks have begun to reduce cashback rates or announced changes in the terms of services for loyalty programs. Experts say that banks will not refuse bonuses, since for Russians they are a key reason for using a card of a particular credit institution.

The Izvestia publication reports that Rosbank and Alfa-Bank have already announced the curtailment of part of the loyalty programs. Sberbank, Gazprombank and Renaissance Credit promise to present changes to bonuses within a month. The Central Bank of Russia demands to reduce the commission for accepting non-cash payments for merchants to 1% from April 18 to August 31. From these funds, a budget is formed for the payment of cashback.

The restriction of the Central Bank will affect sellers of food, fuel, medical supplies, medicines, consumer products and consumer goods. The list of the regulator will include organizations that provide communication services, housing and communal services, education, culture, tourism, medicine, and passenger transportation.

From April 1, Rosbank cancels the service, which provides for the accrual of cashback up to 20% on Mastercard cards. This program was the result of cooperation between the bank and the payment system. However, after the suspension of Mastercard in Russia, the credit institution will close this type of bonus. Rosbank promised to pay cashback to customers in full for February and March.

From April 1, Alfa-Bank disables the loyalty program for Yandex Plus cards. The bonus provided for a cashback of 10% for Yandex services and 5% for restaurants. Now the purchase of any goods and services will bring the owner of ordinary bank cards up to 2%. Alfa-Bank clarified that the loyalty program will be adjusted due to changes in the system of interbank payments.

The Central Bank launched similar measures to support sellers during the first wave of coronavirus from spring to summer 2020. During this period, VTB, Gazprombank, Home Credit and other banks suspended their loyalty programs. Now Sberbank promises significant changes in the cashback option.

Sovcombank, Zenit, MKB, Post Bank, Dom.RF do not intend to reduce bonus programs. These banks finance loyalty programs from the net commission income of the organization (this source provides no more than 1% cashback on all purchases) and from partner organization compensation (increased cashback for purchasing goods and services from partners).

Stanislav Volkov, managing director of the NKR rating agency, says that the requirements of the Bank of Russia to limit the amount of commission for acquiring will lead to the fact that bonus programs will become less attractive. He adds that credit institutions will not abandon loyalty programs in the near future.

Sergey Lobov, commercial director of the T1 group, believes that thanks to cashback, banks manage to interest consumers in other services within the organization. According to him, banks and merchants finance cashback payments, which increases the number of transactions and sales in a particular store.

Russian banks cut loyalty programs