The Central Bank of Russia intends to introduce a limit for free installments

The Central Bank of Russia intends to introduce a limit for free installments

Central Bank intends to introduce limit for purchasing goods in parts. RBC learned about such plans of the regulator. Amendments to the law are intended to be developed by June 1, 2024. We are talking about restrictions for the so-called free installments, when the client can pay for the purchase in installments without a commission. This form does not imply the conclusion of a loan agreement, which, as the Central Bank noted back in 2021, worsens the situation of consumers and deprives them of significant rights and guarantees. The Bank of Russia wants to regulate free and paid installments differently. The latter will be considered a full-fledged consumer loan.

Why did this market attract the attention of the regulator? General Director of the Consulting and Analytical Union Artem Genkin believes that the Central Bank is trying to prevent the credit burden on citizens from becoming critical: “Most likely, the Central Bank is trying to prevent a situation where a lot of bad debts appear on the market at once. This will worsen both the social aspect and the position of many banks that were actively involved in consumer lending. Accordingly, the regulator is trying to do everything that will help prevent such a sharp surge in non-payments. All these measures contribute to the recovery of the market. The question is whether they are being applied too late. Well, the regulator hopes to make it in time.

As for determining the amount of the limit, I think it will be tied to average salaries in a particular region, since these are statistically known values. To ensure that the load on one average household does not exceed the maximum values, such limits are introduced. That is, no more than a certain portion of a family’s monthly consumer budget can be spent on paying off debts. Otherwise, households will experience difficulties.

BKI is the most reliable aggregated source of such information. But, obviously, not all data goes there, especially for BNPL (buy now, pay later).

Therefore, I think that over time the regulator will be more active in forcing operators providing BNPL services to enter complete and reliable information. This way he will see the whole picture for an individual borrower.”

The Central Bank also plans to create a register of services that provide free installments. Yandex, which manages the Split product, told RBC that they consider such a measure premature due to the small size of the market. At the same time, the “Shares” service from Tinkoff Bank welcomed the creation of the register.

Determining the limit for installment plans without overpayments is a compromise with market players, says Dmitry Yanin, Chairman of the Board of the International Confederation of Consumer Societies. In his opinion, all such products need to be regulated as consumer loans, otherwise the restrictions will be ineffective: “The Bank of Russia sees the growth rate of the market for free installments, they are very high. This is not only a Russian story, the same problem is in the UK, USA, Australia and other countries.

Therefore, the scenario in which we regulate this product as a banking product is not an innovation, this is how regulators in civilized countries operate.

But as for the model that our regulator chooses, that is, restrictions on the amount, in my opinion, this is something new. I don’t know how justified this decision is. Because for people who are already in a very difficult financial situation, even a small “free” installment plan can become a control shot, as a result of which this family will be forced to file for bankruptcy in the future.”

Services that offer installment plans without commission are called one of the trends in the payment market. According to Frank RG forecasts, in 2023, sales volume using such a tool could reach 120 billion rubles.

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Elena Ivanova

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