By more than doubling its card-issuance total this year, Sberbank Ltd. has became one of Russia’s top five credit card issuers by number of cards issued, a spokesperson for the bank tells PaymentsSource. 

“In the last six months, we’ve almost doubled the number of our credit cards,” she says.

 The bank in July increased its card-issuance total to 948,768 cards, up 110% from 451,040 in January. Receivables grew by 92%%, to 15.2 billion rubles ($US503.5 million or 385 million euros) from 7.9 billion rubles, the spokesperson says.

 “Sberbank has been actively developing this line of business lately and wants to become the country’s leading issuer of credit cards in the near future,” she says.

 The bank issues primarily Visa- and MasterCard-branded cards.

 The financial institution also hopes its new PRO100 card program potentially develops into the national payment system, an alternative to Visa and MasterCard, Viktor Orlovsky, the bank’s vice president, told PaymentsSource in an earlier interview. PRO100 cards use EMV chip technology, which is “compatible with international standards and offer more options,” the spokesperson says. 

Sberbank historically focused on issuing debit cards and has only recently become interested in growing its credit card program, the spokesperson says.

 The country’s major credit card issuers include Russian Standard Bank, which reported 36.9 billion rubles in card outstandings in July; HKF Bank, 17.4 billion rubles; VTB Bank, 15.7 billion rubles; Sberbank, 15.2 billion rubles; and Alfa-Bank, 12.3 billion rubles, according to Russia’s local newspaper, the Kommersant. 

Sberbank plan to issue some 1.5 million credit cards by the end of 2010, Kommersant reports.

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