Banking in Russia is subject to significant regulations as banks in the Russian Federation have to meet mandatory Russian legislation requirements, and comply with numerous Bank of Russia instructions and regulations.


Soviet period

During the first few years following the Russian Revolution, all banks' assets were nationalized and liabilities canceled in late 1917, and banking was declared a state monopoly. During war communism from January 1920 to October 1921, there were no banks at all in operation in Russia. With the New Economic Policy, a single-tier banking system gradually took shape. Following the NEP, the Soviet system relied on several specialized financial institutions, which were reorganized in waves of reform following major leadership transitions in 1928-1932, 1955-1959, and 1987-1988:


Perestroika reforms affected the banking system. In June 1987, a plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSUs took place, where it was decided to improve the system. In July 1987, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the "Council of Ministers of the USSR made Resolution No. 821 "On improving the system of banks in the country and strengthening their impact on improving the efficiency of the economy.

The creation of banks on a commercial basis was permitted by the Law "On Cooperation in the USSR", adopted on May 26, 1988. A number of new cooperative banks licensed starting from August 1988, the first being Soyuz-Bank in Shymkent (now in Kazakhstan) followed by Patent Bank in Leningrad.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Savings Bank's Russian operations were reorganized as Sberbank in 1990-1991. The Promstroybank was abolished in August 1991, and Vnesheconombank suspended payments in December 1991. The latter was eventually reorganized in 2007 as a Russian state development bank, and eventually in 2018 as a state development corporation branded VEB.RF. Sberbank continues to this day as one of Russia's largest banks, retaining senior ex-Gosbank personnel and most of the present Russian government's banking business.

Independent Russia

The modern Russian Federation inherited the banking system of the Soviet Union, with a few big state banks (like Sberbank, Vneshekonombank, and Vneshtorgbank). After more than 15 years of reforms in Russia, there are now 1183 financial institutions with 3286 regional branches.[2]

1998 financial crisis

Main article: 1998 Russian financial crisis

In 1988, 41 commercial and cooperative banks were registered in the USSR, including 25 banks on the territory of the RSFSR. By January the 1st, 1990, the statutes of 225 commercial and cooperative banks were registered, including 184 in 1989.[3] In 1990, in connection with the declaration of state sovereignty by the RSFSR, the Russian Republican Bank of the State Bank of the USSR and Russian banks of specialized banks were declared the property of the RSFSR. Also, the Supreme Council of the RSFSR decided to transform all institutions of state specialized banks in the autonomous republics, territories and regions into commercial banks before January 1, 1991. In this regard, the number of banks in the RSFSR increased several times in the second half of 1990. As a result, the number of banks in the Russian Federation was 1360 on January 1, 1992.[4]

2008 financial crisis

Main article: 2008–2009 Russian financial crisis

Beginning in early October 2008, several Russian banks failed due to liquidity issues related to US credit derivatives. Russian bank Globex barred customers from withdrawing money from their accounts on October 15, 2008, in the first bank run of the current global economic crisis.


In June 2013 Elvira Nabiullina was appointed as the chairman of the Central Bank of Russia.[5] In an interview with television channel Channel one she said Russia's Central Bank has no blacklists of banks subject to license revocation. She added that the Central Bank will not warn any bank about such measures. She said, "As a matter of fact, no one knows who might be the next, We cannot warn anyone. Moreover, it would be wrong to do that. I know not a single country worldwide where the central banks would warn about license revocation. It is not ruled out that in case a bank is warned, a mala fide owner or managers could divert assets, making settlements with the closest clients, so a rank and file depositor will finally receive much less money".[6]

And so, in December 2013 Central Bank of Russia revoked licenses of three commercial banks, Investbank, Smolensky Bank and the Bank of Project Finance and later then Ecoprombank, Masterbank, Simbirsk and many others.[7] State-run Agency for deposits’ insurance paid money to clients.[8]

Credit and debit cards

At the end of 2008, there were 119 million bank cards in circulation in Russia.[9]


In March 2014, amidst the 2014 Crimean crisis, following the passage of a secession referendum, the declaration of independence of the Republic of Crimea from Ukraine and the process of accession to Russia that followed it, U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions on Rossiya Bank. International payment systems Visa Inc. and MasterCard suddenly stopped service of credit cards issued by the Rossiya Bank. Non-cash transactions of SMP Bank (owned by Rottenberg brothers) and Sobinbank (100% subsidiary of Rossiya) were also frozen.[10] Many Russian residents turned to national banks operations although they still have no doubt in reliability of foreign transnational financial institutions.[11]


Largest banks in Russia in terms of net assets (millions of rubles) as of December 2020:[12][13]

No. Bank Assets, in million rubles
1 Sberbank 32 421 026
2 VTB Bank 15 813 216
3 Gazprombank 7 613 174
4 Alfa-Bank 4 229 025
5 Rosselkhozbank 3 539 546
6 Credit Bank of Moscow 2 988 171
7 Otkritie FC Bank 2 530 760
8 Promsvyazbank 2 503 499
9 Sovcombank 1 576 708
10 Raiffeisenbank 1 432 353

Further information: List of banks in Russia


  1. ^ "Рейтинг банков | Банки.ру". Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Справка о количестве действующих кредитных организаций и их филиалов по состоянию на 01.02.07 - Банк России".
  3. ^ Геращенко В.В. (10 July 1990). "Отчет о работе государственной системы банков СССР за 1989 год" (pdf). Центральный банк Российской Федерации. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Годовой отчет Центрального банка Российской Федерации за 1992 год" (PDF). ЦБ РФ. 1993. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Central Bank Cancels 3 More Bank Licenses". Moscow Times. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Russia's Central Bank has no blacklists of banks subject to license revocation - governor". ITAR TASS. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Russia's Central Bank revokes licenses of 3 commercial banks". Itar Tass. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Agency for deposits' insurance starts paying clients of banks whose licenses were revoked". Itar Tass. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  9. ^ "A reversal of fortunes for Russia?". Cards International. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  10. ^ "Bank Rossiya Is First Russian Lender Under U.S. Sanctions". Bloomberg. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Рейтинг банков России". Коммерсантъ. 2020-12-09.
  13. ^ "Russia: Top 10 largest banks, by total assets 2020". Retrieved 1 October 2020.