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“Now our help is of particular importance”

Chairman of the Far Eastern Bank PJSC Sberbank spoke about the features of the economic life of the Far East and assistance to the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District in restrictive conditions

Large territories and remoteness from the central part of the country are characteristic features of the regions of the Far East. FEFD subjects always need additional support. In an interview with EastRussia, Dmitry Sukhoverkhov, Chairman of the Far Eastern Bank of PJSC Sberbank, spoke about what measures are being taken to help the regions and the business operating on their territory.

“Now our help is of particular importance”

- Dmitry Evgenievich, what, in your opinion, are the features of the development and economic life of the Far Eastern region?

- It seems to me that the main feature is that the Far East very quickly overcame their caution about the use of Internet technologies in financial management. And now they are rapidly moving along this path. The coronavirus pandemic caused a sharp jump in non-cash payments throughout the country, showed their relevance and necessity, and the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District have been among the leaders in terms of their share in the total number of transactions for a long time. There are many explanations for this. Our distances are pushing towards the transition to non-cash payments - the Internet allows us to connect territory into a denser single space.

It is also just convenient, especially for residents of remote settlements, who previously needed to go to another city to make any financial transactions. Now they can make almost all payments through the bank’s mobile application. A striking example is the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, where, despite the special situation with Internet communications, today 90% of utility bills are paid through Sberbank Online and Housing and Utility Payments.

The special pioneering mentality of the inhabitants of the region also affects. The proximity of technologically advanced neighbors also makes its contribution - someone else's example can also be contagious. Sberbank has set itself a new challenge - to achieve a new level of competitiveness with technology companies and at the same time remain the best bank for our clients. I think that we will cope with this task in the Far East.

- How closely does the bank, as the largest financial institution, cooperate with the regions? What projects aimed at the development of subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District are implemented by the bank?

- Sberbank has always been active in working with state authorities, both at the federal and regional levels. We work closely in areas such as increasing the availability of financial services for residents of the regions, increasing the financial literacy of the population, lending to subjects, digitalizing the economy and implementing joint projects aimed at improving the quality of life of the Far East.

For example, our bank has implemented the possibility of non-cash payment of travel in public transport in the cities of the Far East - Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Bolshoy Kamen, Blagoveshchensk, Belogorsk, Svobodny, Skovorodino, Magadan, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Kholmsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Today, in the Far East, nearly 2,5 thousand units of transport are equipped for non-cash travel. Soon the project will be launched in Birobidzhan and in Artem.

And in the territory of Chukotka, where the only way to get to some remote villages is by small aircraft, last year we realized the possibility of cashless payments on airplanes, and now passengers can pay for a ticket directly on board using a credit card. Literally last month, non-cash payment appeared on passenger ships of the region, which run between the Egvekinot, Provideniya, Lawrence and Beringovsky, as well as inside the Anadyr estuary. For many, this type of transport is uncontested, so it is important that local residents do not spend time buying tickets at the box office or cash out at ATMs. Now you can pay without problems right on the ship.

Cashless fare payment is a direct convenience for passengers and carriers. So, the first ones do not need to look for trifles in their pockets, and the conductors need to worry about surrender and spend time counting money. The introduction of a non-cash form of payments allows you to increase the collection of taxes and payments, and cash flow is simplified. When you regularly pay by credit card in transport, it becomes a habit to pay by cashless payment wherever possible. So this is also a safer form of settlement - especially in a pandemic.

One of the distinguishing features of the regions of the Far East is that there are many remote and small settlements, which are difficult to get to. To increase the availability of financial services for their residents, Sberbank provided the opportunity to withdraw cash from cards in local stores, this can be done with a minimum purchase. Today this can be done in 117 settlements of the Far East. This allows residents to have free access to cash even where there are no ATMs and bank branches nearby. The project is developing, and, in addition to increasing the number of our partners, the list of financial services is expanding. So, in 50% of these stores today you can not only withdraw money, but also pay for utilities. Outlets are also interested in the development of the project - they get new customers and additional sales.

- You mentioned cooperation with the regions in matters of financial literacy of the population. What activities in this area does Sberbank conduct?

- Sberbank is traditionally the general partner of the All-Russian Savings Week, which is held twice a year by the RF Ministry of Finance. As part of this campaign, bank employees organize lectures and lessons on financial literacy for different groups of the population: schoolchildren, students, our payroll clients, and pensioners. Moreover, we have a special approach to each of these groups. So, for schoolchildren and students, Sberbank conducts quests and excursions to offices, seminars, where we talk about ways of maintaining personal and family budgets, and we also speak in plain language about investments and securities. For retirees, we focus on cybersecurity so that they do not fall for the tricks of fraudsters, including new ways of cheating.

In a pandemic, when the spring week of savings was moved to autumn, we did not stop educating the population and switched to online. Through video conferencing, bank employees continued to talk about the basics of financial literacy. From April to May, Sberbank experts held a series of webinars on financial and digital literacy as part of the anti-crisis project of the National Center for Financial Literacy (NCFG) “Pandemic and Crisis: Protecting Finances”.

In addition, Sberbank is implementing its own initiatives in this direction. So, last year the bank developed and released a game simulator "Deposit". It shows the life of a person, and you need to manage personal finances and correctly allocate the budget. The game is suitable for schoolchildren and students, so that they practice working with money in the virtual world and learn some financial instruments. Conveniently, the application can be downloaded to a smartphone. SberKot, a chatbot on VKontakte, which sends financial tips to subscribers, is also popular among young people.

Sberbank generally pays special attention to education. In the Far East alone, three educational programs are being implemented with the support of the bank. This is the basic department of banking, which this year has already celebrated its XNUMXth anniversary, and the master's program of the School of Digital Economics “Artificial Intelligence and Big Data” at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. In the new academic year, at the Pacific State University in Khabarovsk, a new educational program “Big Data Analytics” is launched, we will be its partner. Sberbank also actively promotes students' project activities, using a project approach based on the principles of collaboration with universities to create a platform for launching startup accelerators.

We are also working to create an educational environment that can adapt to the needs and objectives of the business. For students, programs are being implemented aimed at the formation of the so-called "soft skills": teamwork skills, negotiation, emotional intelligence, as well as digital skills. With teachers we share modern technologies of the educational process.

At the same time, our goal is not to create a pool of potential employees for Sberbank, we want more specialists to appear in the Far East in this, so far for many, new field. And since Sberbank implements many projects in the field of the digital economy and already uses artificial intelligence in its daily work, we really can share our knowledge and experience.

We have an interesting project of the Sberbank Charity Fund “Contribution to the Future” - for children and parents, this 21st Century Skills Navigator. It is a portal that will help you master the key skills of the future. The user needs to specify the age and interests of the child, and the navigator will select the appropriate books, courses, applications and much more.

- And what is the cooperation between Sberbank and public sector financing?

- As for financing the public sector, today Sberbank is the leader in this market. Currently, we have funded regional budgets and enterprises of the region for more than 70 billion rubles. Basically, municipalities raise funds to increase the expenditure side of the budget, thus solving their tasks of financing significant projects in their territories, and ensuring social guarantees.

Sberbank offers a wide range of tools to solve the problems of our partners: from lending to leasing of machinery and equipment. Such forms as bond issuance, factoring are becoming popular.

The instrument of public-private partnership (PPP) is gradually developing. Having studied the circumstances that hinder the active development of this tool, Sberbank changed its approach to working with projects and offered so-called box solutions. Their peculiarity is that the proposals correspond to the needs of the region, the amount of the transaction corresponds to the scale of these needs, while there is an investor to implement the project and methodological support from the bank at the implementation stage.

This is a set of document templates and basic requirements, including a model for the preparation, support and financing of concession projects in various industries. These include projects in the field of housing and communal services (for the modernization and construction of heat supply systems, water supply and wastewater disposal, processing and disposal of household waste), educational institutions and social facilities. Thus, neither the investor nor the public party needs to go through a difficult path to develop them, waste resources and time - the bank has done all the work for them.

For example, on the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory, a joint project with JSC "Khabarovsk Energy Systems" was implemented to create and reconstruct heat supply facilities in the urban settlement "Workers' settlement Chegdomyn" of the Verkhnebureinsky District. The objects built and reconstructed within the framework of the transaction provide the population of the village with uninterrupted heat supply during the heating season.

We also offer solutions for the Smart City project. So, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the innovative solution “Monitor of the mayor” has already been introduced. Its task is to deeply modernize the management of urban services. In addition to the specialized functions of tracking the operation of urban vehicles, the “Mayor's Monitor” has built-in subsystems for controlling the engineering process: from the deployment and equipment stage to supporting all necessary technological operations throughout the entire period of work of the cleaning equipment. This allows you to save fuel costs, increase the speed of tasks for cleaning the city and significantly reduce the occurrence of emergency situations.

Sberbank is implementing another interesting project with the Ministry of Health of the Khabarovsk Territory; it concerns the use of artificial intelligence methods in medicine and medical services in regional institutions for the diagnosis and early detection of strokes. Already more than three thousand images have been analyzed, and this tool has become part of everyday work in the diagnosis of diseases. Most recently, we launched a joint project to introduce an artificial intelligence model into the COVID-19 diagnostic process for faster analysis of computed tomography images.

Sberbank best practices formed the basis of a project to optimize the work of the government of the Magadan Region. The Amelia system was introduced there (such a poetic name was chosen by chance - it is translated from ancient German as “hardworking”), which helps all government services to order internal services through a mobile application. Already, Amelia is working with all types of IT requests and ordering material assets, and until the end of the summer all employees can use Amelia to order a car, minor repair services, cleaning the premises and much more. Lean manufacturing elements reduce time and labor costs. Now all the work will be “digitized”, the accumulated statistics over time will help to correctly allocate resources and costs, determine the points of possible savings.

A unique experience of cooperation is with the Primorsky Territory. There, with the participation of Strategy Partners, a digital transformation strategy for the region was developed, during the formation of which the international experience of socio-economic development was studied, studies were conducted on the economy of Primorye and the Far East, as well as large-scale surveys of business and the population. The implementation of the strategy should cause accelerated growth of the economy of the Primorsky Territory, while the changes should affect such areas as transport, trade, services, industry, education, healthcare, construction, fisheries and agriculture. The strategy is designed until 2030. I emphasize that this project is unique nationwide.

Every day we see in the regions more and more interest in digitalization and the introduction of innovative technologies in everyday life. We are now discussing more than 60 projects in various areas: intelligent video surveillance with facial recognition in educational institutions, outsourcing services for state-owned enterprises and organizations, telemedicine, speech recognition systems in courts and medical facilities for faster service delivery, “smart stops”, development of regional strategies and a lot others.

- The Russian government has launched several state programs aimed at improving the living conditions of Russians. How much are they in demand in the Far East?

- Indeed, in the framework of Government Decision No. 566, the state essentially subsidizes the expenses of banks in connection with a reduction in the interest rate on mortgages. The rate under the program "State Support 2020" will cost the borrower no more than 6,5% per annum. Sberbank also reduced the rate by another 0,1 percentage points, so in our bank it is equal to 6,4% per annum when registering a mortgage for housing in a new building. Such a loan will be available only until November 1, 2020.

The program is in high demand: during the month of its operation, Far Eastern Sberbank issued about 700 loans totaling more than 1,8 billion rubles. One of the reasons for the high demand is that conditions are available for a wider audience: there are no restrictions on marital status, not only families, but also single people, young and adults can take part in it.

But the most popular among the residents of the Far East, of course, is the Far Eastern Mortgage program with a rate of 2%. Today, under this program, we have already issued more than 3 thousand loans totaling over 11 billion rubles. We see that the high demand for it has led to a shortage of real estate in the primary market for which the program is designed. And in order to help increase offers from developers, the emergence of a greater number of new buildings in the region, Sberbank offered construction companies special financing conditions.    

In addition, until February 1, 2021, a promotion is in effect at Sberbank, which allows you to get a discount to the mortgage loan rate of 0,3 percentage points when using the Electronic Registration service. Thus, you can take out a loan under the program “State Support 2020” at a reduced rate of 6,1%, and “Far Eastern Mortgage” at an unprecedented rate of 1,7%.

By the way, the owners of the Far Eastern Hectare can also use the Far Eastern Mortgage program - special conditions are assumed for them. In May, the first loan was issued for the construction of an individual residential building on the “Far Eastern hectare”. The loan was received by a family from Sovetskaya Gavan, Khabarovsk Territory.

- Sberbank has long been representing customers not only banking services, but also an entire ecosystem of services that will be useful in many areas of life. How is the ecosystem of the bank represented today in the Far East?

- Now, in a pandemic, our non-financial services are acquiring special importance. For the clients of the “small and micro-business” segment, SBER Solutions launched consultations on business support measures introduced by the Russian government. "Business environment" on the platform of knowledge and services for business publishes materials and services about the transfer of employees to remote work, effective work from home, as well as services for the successful start and development of their business. Access is open to everyone, it is also available to the Far East.

In addition, for two months free access to a significant part was provided. of course “120 seconds. The Secret Experience of Millionaires. ” These are business tips that are packaged in two-minute video tutorials. Each video is a turnkey solution for business, which can be studied at any convenient time through a computer or gadget.

Also on the Business Environment platform, a service is available for online business registration and remote account opening, with which you can register an individual entrepreneur and LLC with one founder online and open an account without leaving your home, without visiting a tax office.

Strategy Partners consulting company offered Sberbank customers a number of strategic anti-crisis products to help develop possible scenarios for the development of the situation, form a package of anti-crisis measures and adapt the management model in order to reduce the possible consequences of the crisis. For example, those companies that were interested in express diagnostics and quick decisions could take advantage of the “Strategic session on the development of anti-crisis measures”.

Those for whom a systematic approach is important considered the "Comprehensive Anti-Crisis Program", which allows working out scenarios for the development of the situation, adjusting goals and investment plans, as well as developing a system of measures to strengthen business sustainability, preparing a business plan, a financial model for obtaining state support measures, and much more. For companies that view the crisis as a time of opportunity, Strategy Partners experts worked out options for expanding their business through M&A transactions, analyzed the feasibility of entering other product segments and foreign markets.

Also during the pandemic, the DocDoc telemedicine service (now called Sber Health), which is part of the Sberbank ecosystem, has become relevant. When calling a free hotline, the user is connected to a call center specialist, the operator consults on issues that do not require medical qualifications, and, if necessary, connects to a doctor. Since the beginning of April, consultations of psychologists have also become available on the same hotline, while the duration of the consultations is unlimited. During the operation of the hot line, about ten thousand residents of the Far East applied there.

As part of the same hotline, a specialized free-of-charge project on coronavirus-related issues was launched for Russian medical workers. This is especially true for doctors who work in remote or small settlements, where it is not always possible to conduct a medical consultation with colleagues who have more expertise in a particular topic.

- What measures did Sberbank offer to help its clients during restrictions on coronavirus?

- Sberbank is working both on state support programs, and has proposed its own measures. So, we continue to actively accept and consider applications from clients under the program “State support 2%”. This program has generated huge demand and is aimed at resuming business. It can be used by enterprises of all segments - from small businesses to the largest enterprises from affected sectors or sectors that require support to resume operations.

A key feature of this program is that the state has proposed truly unique support measures. Enterprises that retain 2021% of their staff until March 90 will be completely deducted the amount of the loan and accrued interest, while maintaining 80% of the staff - half the amount. Thus, thanks to this program, the enterprise will be able to pay salaries, replenish working capital, and use financing for investment purposes.

In addition, we continue to issue loans at 0% for salaries under the state program. They are intended for small and micro-businesses in accordance with Federal Law No. 209-FZ and are provided only to customers from affected sectors, the list of which is approved by the government. Today, our bank has issued more than 660 loans totaling more than 1,7 billion rubles.

Sberbank also developed an extended program of credit holidays (restructuring of loans) for all segments related to the industries most affected by COVID-19. Programs are already running across the country, including in the Far East.

And for small and micro-business a decision was made on a simplified mechanism for restructuring - we provide a delay of up to six months on loans to clients affected by the influence of coronavirus infection. Also, for a period of up to six months, Sberbank is ready not to impose sanctions on customers of small and micro-businesses if they do not fulfill other obligations under loan agreements. We are talking about insurance, registration of collateral, maintaining turnover on accounts, providing documents, meeting financial indicators.

The bank also reduced rates on Internet acquiring for enterprises selling socially significant goods and services via the Internet. The preferential rate applies to enterprises engaged in the retail sale of food products, medical goods, household appliances and communications worth up to 20 thousand rubles, clothing and consumer goods. The commission for this group of enterprises will be no more than 1% until September 30 of this year.

Since cashless settlements during the pandemic period became more relevant, Sberbank reduced the rate on all types of acquiring (trading, Internet acquiring and the Pay QR service) for medical institutions from June 1. The commission will be no more than 1% of the turnover, such a proposal will be valid until September 30 of this year. The reduced rate will be provided to clinics and hospitals, medical laboratories, ambulance services, as well as licensed doctors who are engaged in general or specialized medicine.

In general, I can note that any crisis is a time of opportunity, a point of growth. We see that the bank’s strategy for digitalization was correct. All digital services have become more in demand. Our service “DomKlik”, which has long made it possible to purchase housing in a mortgage online, has allowed the bank and customers not to suspend mortgage transactions, all work was carried out in the previous mode. Thanks to the extensive functionality of the Sberbank Online application, our customers can carry out almost all operations online while at home, which, of course, was extremely important during the period of self-isolation.

During the pandemic, we recorded an increase in the popularity of the bank’s ecosystem services, which have become relevant and useful for our customers. Thus, we can talk about the successful implementation of the main task of the ecosystem - to offer a wide range of necessary quality services and services covering almost all spheres of human life.

For example, Okko has gained great popularity, which is already more than an online movie theater. During the period of self-isolation, he not only provided special conditions for subscription packages, but together with Sberbank he launched the projects “Art Online” and “Show ON”, which opened theaters, museums and concert halls for virtual visits. Also, Okko and Sberdevice companies offer the Okko Smart Box media set-top box, which can be connected to a TV, and watch movies in the Okko online cinema, sports broadcasts in Okko Sports, video on the Internet and television channels. And you can take it with you to the cottage or to visit, it is very compact and fully portable.

At the end of June, in the largest cities of the Far East, the federal food delivery service SberMarket began operating, which allows you to order groceries and essential goods online with home delivery right to the door. Today, the service operates in Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Magadan, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Birobidzhan and Anadyr. The launch of such a service in Chukotka, by the way, is a real “leap”. Nine retail chains have already become partners of SberMarket, their list will soon increase, as will the list of cities where it will become available. We are actively working on this.

SberMarket is not just a courier delivery service, its key difference is that the company employs professional order pickers who take special courses and pass the necessary qualification tests. The client makes an order through the website or a convenient mobile application, the collector SberMarket will select the goods, pack the products in packages and thermal boxes, then the courier will deliver the order to the door at the selected two-hour interval.

I note that there is a contactless delivery service, which is especially important at this time. It is important that if the store does not have something from the customer’s order, they will definitely call him back and specify whether to replace the position and what. The service also allows you to save time: you do not need to spend it on a trip to the shops; SberMarket will take on these chores. We will continue to accelerate to anticipate customer needs.

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