Mail.ru Group, Alipay, USM, MegaFon and RDIF team up to launch e-wallet JV

29 October 2019

Earlier this month Alipay, Mail.ru Group, mobile operator MegaFon, sovereign fund RDIF and Alisher Usmanov’s holding USM agreed to create a joint venture focused on digital payment services in Russia. Their initiative is presented as being “part of efforts to promote financial inclusion” and “upgrade the country’s digital payment services.”

The JV will integrate two existing payment services controlled by Mail.ru Group – VK Pay and [email protected] – thus creating a potentially powerful e-wallet company.  Currently the main players in this field include Yandex.Money, WebMoney, Qiwi Wallet and MTS Dengi, according to a recent industry report by East-West Digital News.

Mail.ru Group will own a 40% stake in the new JV, while AliPay and the RDIF will get 20% and 5%, respectively.

A 30% stake will be owned by another joint venture, which will process the transactions generated by the payment JV and create related services.

According to business daily Kommersant, which cites several anonymous sources, USM will own 51.05% of this second JV while AliPay, the RDIF, MegaFon and Mail.ru Group will get, respectively, 30%, 7%, 6% and 5.95% of it. USM’s influence in the two JVs will be even more considerable, taking into account the fact that this holding company has significant shares of Mail.ru Group and MegaFon. 

The second JV could potentially offer banking services, too, wrote Kommersant, as USM is contributing Round Bank, one of its properties, as an asset to the JV. Purchases on credit could thus be made available without any intervention from a third-party bank.

The signing of non-binding term sheets for these two JVs immediately followed the completion a major e-commerce JV deal involving Mail.ru Group and its subsidiary VK, Alibaba Group and its subsidiary AliExpress, as well as MegaFon and RDIF. 

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