InfoWatch of Natalya Kaspersky bought 80% of the payment system HandyBank. This asset together with Kaspersky-controlled Neklis Bank will allow it to create its own FINTECH platform and possibly enter the cryptocurrency market.
OOO “InfoWatch Group”, the main shareholder of which is Natalya Kasperskaya, acquired 80% of OOO “Handysolutions” managing the payment system HandyBank, follows from the data of SPARK. The seller of the share was Sergey Chernomorov – Chairman of the Board and shareholder of the Bank “New Symbol” which in November 2017 lost the license of the Central Bank.
HandyBank is an interbank system for managing accounts and making payments. Clients of banks with which HandyBank has partnership agreements can install the mobile application and link their bank cards to it and pay for housing bills, mobile service, make purchases in online stores, make money transfers. Partners of HandyBank system are more than 50 banks. According to SPARK, 2016 revenue of OOO “Handysolutions” decreased by 59% to 5.4 million rubles., and net loss amounted to 453 thousand rubles. Settlement center of the payment system before revocation of the license was the Bank “New Symbol”. Now, according to Natalya Kaspersky, the main settlement center is the Bank “Otkrytie”.
The founder and CEO of Pay-Me payment system Vladimir Kanin believes that the cost of the entire company HandyBank is about $5 million, which means that the purchase of 80% of the company could cost Kaspersky about $4 million. HandyBank mobile application installs are about 5-10 thousand in Google Play and about the same in App Store. The company used to develop mobile applications for banks as an outsourcer as they have good technologies. Kaspersky might have bought the company because of their existing technologies, earnings and teams to quickly enter the banking business, not to develop technology from scratch.
At the end of 2017, after the revocation of the license of Bank “New Symbol” HandyBank system failed — it was unavailable to users. This could significantly reduce the amount of the transaction.
For Natalia Kasperskaya HandyBank not the first acquisition associated with the banking industry. In September 2017, she became the owner of 64% of the Neklis Bank through her offshore company “Organat Financial limited”, follows from the data of the Central Bank. This is a small Moscow Bank, ranked 296th in assets in the ranking of “Interfax-CEA”.
“One of the directions for the development of the Neklis Bank is the possibility to create a FINTECH platform on its basis, which would provide services to other banks, for example in the field of information security or payments,” said Natalia Kaspersky. HandyBank is not the only payment system targeted by InfoWatch. The company is considering buying at least one more payment system, but this transaction has not yet been closed, said Kaspersky.
In order to compete with already existing FINTECH platforms and payment systems, InfoWatch should offer a fundamentally new solution for consumers of financial services and financial institutions, says Yury Gribanov, CEO of Frank Research Group. “Moreover, the solution should not only be new and reliable, but also convenient for users. While consumers of financial services are rather careless in matters of security, and if authorization or confirmation of transactions requires a complex algorithm of action, such a system will not be in demand,” he says.
It is possible that with the help of the acquired payment system InfoWatch can enter the cryptocurrency market. At the end of 2017, OOO “InfoWatch Asset Management” (structure of the group InfoWatch) filed several applications with Rospatent to register trademarks, including names CasperCoin, CryptoCasper, RussianBit etc. And during the opening of the training center InfoWatch at the St. Petersburg “National research University of information technologies, mechanics and optics” in January, Kaspersky said that bitcoins are the development of US intelligence services, and therefore Russia needs to develop its own cryptocurrencies.
“The bitcoin is a project of US intelligence, which was created for rapid funding of secret intelligence services activities of US, UK and Canada in different countries of the world.”
“RIA Novosti”, January 2018
“We have to have a national cryptocurrency, because specifically Bitcoin is a tool that, firstly, is not invented by us, and secondly, 75% of bitcoins are in private hands.”
“Russia 24”, October 2017
“The transparency of transactions with Bitcoin is zero, it is impossible to reliably establish who pays whom. This goes against the trend of ensuring transparency of transactions around the world.”
“Komsomolskaya Pravda”, January 2018
According to the Executive Director of the Russian Association of cryptocurrency and blockchain (RAKIB) Arseniy Schelitsin, Kaspersky has a good chance to make their products in the field of cryptocurrencies, and they are likely to be different from similar certification in Russia. “It is usual for people to express concerns about new technologies, and there may be “holes” for secret services in Bitcoin, but it is quite difficult and senseless to use them. Kaspersky can make its projects on the blockchain but they will certainly use the Russian cryptography, and then those will be certified by the regulatory bodies,” says Schelitsin.
Kaspersky can face serious competition in this field. There are already several large players such as Sberbank, QIWI and all sorts of associations. At the same time, the issue of regulation of the cryptocurrency industry remains open.
InfoWatch company was founded in 2003 as a subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab and became fully independent in 2007. Principal owner and head of InfoWatch is Natalya Kasperskaya. Offices are located in Moscow, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai.