In 2018 a number of changes were made to the Russian Civil Code, facilitating certain transactional aspects. This includes rules on loans made available under agreements governed by Russian law, bank accounts, escrow arrangements, etc. and evidences the continued endeavour to make transaction-related rules more business-friendly.
Changes were also made to the Russian currency control laws. Rules for mandatory repatriation were tightened by extending them to loans. Additional requirements for contracts with non-residents were introduced. The so-called "transaction passport" was replaced with a registration of contracts, however, not resulting in easing the administrative burden for bank customers in connection with cross-border payments.
The general market environment for financing transactions remains difficult. The number of new cross-border projects is low, and lending activity is often limited to refinancings or domestic rouble financings. As of 1 December 2018 the volume of loans provided to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs amounted to RUB 35.4 trillion (as of 1 December 2017 comprised RUB 30.5 trillion). More than 600 companies placed bonds at the Moscow Exchange, however, the largest placements were made by state bodies such as the Bank of Russia (approx. RUB 4.9 billion) and the Ministry of Finance (more than RUB 2.1 billion).
Licenses of more than 60 banks were revoked by the Bank of Russia in the course of 2018, which is evidence of the continuing tough policy of the regulator in the banking sector.
On the regulatory side, the increased use of technology is visible both in the market place and with respect to legislative proposals. The number of payments via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay has materially increased, and according to mass media1 Russia is now number one in the world in this respect. Draft federal laws relating to crowd funding and crypto currencies are in the parliamentary process.
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