Cash less time. New study unveiled

Jul 30, 2020

Russians resort to cash more often during springs and summers, but not amid the pandemic, reads a new study on the analytical website. The study was carried out by SberData lab and the IT company OFD Platform.

Contrary to the years-long trend, the proportion of non-cash payments for products and services in 2Q20 increased from 1Q to reach 53.4%, which is 5.4 pp higher than in 2019. This is largely explained by changes in consumer behavior, but there is also a risk of higher off-the-books cash turnover. According to the data provided by the Bank of Russia, the volume of circulating cash soared by over RUB1 trln in the second quarter.

Non-cash settlements climaxed between May 4 and 10 to reach 57.3% and started shrinking again in June.

Customers started using cards more often in the Corner Shop category, which saw the share of non-cash payments climb to 52.3% in 2Q from 46% in 1Q and 40% a year ago. Supermarkets also saw the metric increase, by 12 pp.

As the conventional stores were closed, cashless turnover surged in the Clothing category, with people often using online venues to buy stuff. In this category, 2Q20 cashless transactions accounted for 77.5% of all purchases from April’s 86.2%. Over 70% of spending in the home appliances category accounted for cards.

The average order value skyrocketed in April only to slide gradually after – as consumer activity was climbing, people would buy more often but at different stores and spend small amounts of money. Between April and June as much as 8% of the retail turnover might have been sold off-the-books, the study says.

In Karelia, Murmansk Region, and Komi Republic the share of cashless purchases exceeded 62%. These are followed by Arkhangelsk Region, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Kamchatka Territory, Chukotka Autonomous District, Tyumen Region, and Novgorod Region with non-cash payments fluctuating between 58% and 60%. One of the largest regions in Russia – St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region – has hit the Top 10 for the first time with 59% of purchases made using cards. In the Republic of Khakassia, the metric added 10.3 pp y-o-y, whereas throughout Russia the penetration of non-cash payments increased by an average of 5.4 pp.

All Top 10 ‘cashless’ cities have the metric above 60%, with Petrozavodsk (64.4%), Syktyvkar (64.4%), and Severodvinsk (64%) traditionally in the lead. They are closely followed by Apatity, Berezniki, Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Tobolsk, Seversk, Yakutsk, Ukhta, and Veliky Novgorod, all with the proportion of cashless payments overshooting 60%.

Represented by four cities at once, Moscow Region emerged as the leader in terms of cashless turnover of products. However, the metric grew in other parts of Russia as well.

According to the Bank of Russia, the volume of currency in circulation increased significantly over 2Q20. In the first half of 2020 it added RUB1.69 trln, while April through June it soared by almost RUB1.2 trln. According to Sberbank’s Center for Macroeconomic Research, this trend was observed in all key regions (China, the U.S., the eurozone). Read more about this in our study. is an analytical website by Sberbank that illustrates how life in Russia has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, you can find three key indexes on the website, all of them based on anonymized data. These are an incidence model, the consumer activity index, and consumer activity changes. The all-new Business section features the evolution of gross payroll and change in small business activity. The website also has other studies, including all SberData lab ones.

SberData laboratory is a Sberbank initiative designed to process and analyze big data. After aggregating data from payment processors and publicly available sources, bank experts unveil the quantitative characteristics of socio-economic processes in Russia on macroeconomic and microeconomic levels. Only anonymized data is used for analysis, which means no particular customers can be identified behind it. The lab and its studies do not disclose personal information or any trade secrets.

IT company Platform OFD is an operator of fiscal data, digital document management, and electronic reporting. The company processes over 40 mln sales receipts, or every third receipt of online cash registers in Russia, and sends this data to the Federal Tax Service of Russia and Center for Research in Perspective Technologies. A Sberbank ecosystem company, it ranks first among fiscal data operators, according to CNews Analytics.