Over the past six months, Russians have begun to trust the country's banking system more and more often keep money on deposit. Such data was presented on Monday, February 19, by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM).

According to the survey results, in January 2024, almost 47% of citizens said that it is better to keep funds in a bank account, 27% said that savings have no place there, and 26% found it difficult to answer. For comparison: at the beginning of the summer of 2023, the values ​​were 36%, 35% and 29%, respectively.

“If in June last year there was not even a hint of a consensus on where to keep savings, then in subsequent months it clearly emerged: the share of those who believe that it is better to put free money in a bank has steadily exceeded the share of supporters of the opposite point of view... In the new year, Russians remain committed to their opinion,” the study says.

Moreover, according to the report, the index of confidence in bank deposits has remained at a record high level for the last year for the second month in a row: 58 points out of a possible 90. In June this figure was only 50 points.

“The results of monitoring measurements by VTsIOM showed the population’s reaction to the monetary policy of the Bank of Russia, aimed at combating inflation and reducing the volume of money supply in circulation. As the key rate increases from July 2023, there is an increase in the share of the population who believe that it is now better to put free money in the bank,” explained center expert Alexey Ruchin.

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Let us remember that from July to December 2023, the Central Bank more than doubled the key rate - from 7.5 to 16% per annum, and so far it continues to keep it at this level. The regulator explained this tightening of monetary policy by the need to curb the rise in consumer prices for goods and services.

Traditionally, due to an increase in the Central Bank rate, loans in the country become more expensive, and the profitability of bank deposits increases. As a result, households and businesses begin to take out loans less frequently, spend less and save more, overall economic activity declines, and after a certain time, price pressure should weaken.

Due to the actions of the Central Bank over the past six months, interest on deposits in Russia has almost doubled. Thus, according to the regulator, if back in June the maximum rate on deposits in rubles in the ten largest banks was slightly more than 7.8%, then currently the value exceeds 14.8%.

“Interest on deposits increased noticeably following the key rate, which prompted many Russians to deposit savings in banks. Moreover, the population has increased confidence that their funds in credit institutions are well protected: the deposit insurance system is working successfully, and the regulator is closely monitoring the state of the banking sector,” Vyacheslav Putilovsky, director of bank ratings at the Expert RA agency, told RT.

As Anatoly Aksakov, head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market, noted, over the past year and a half in Russia there has not been a single revocation of a bank’s license. This suggests that the Central Bank was able to restore order in the industry and all credit organizations today fully comply with the legislation and the requirements of the regulator, the deputy emphasized.

“There have also been no threats of license revocations recently. In addition, the market situation has developed quite positively: last year, banks were able to earn record profits totaling 3.3 trillion rubles, which also influenced the attitude of citizens. People saw that everything was working fine in the industry,” Aksakov added in an interview with RT.

“Reflects the state of the economy”

The country's President Vladimir Putin previously announced the positive situation in the Russian banking sector. According to him, Russian credit institutions withstood the pressure of unprecedented Western sanctions, which came as a surprise to the initiators of the restrictions themselves.

“Our ill-wishers, apparently, did not expect that the Russian banking sector would go through all the difficulties that were created from the outside in this way. They didn’t take into account the seemingly basic things that a bank is not just a box where money is stored, but is part of the economy. The banking sector reflects the state of the economy as a whole,” Putin said at a meeting with VTB head Andrei Kostin in November 2023.

The top manager then agreed with the assessment of the head of state and noted that Western countries had committed “absolute chaos” in relation to the banking sector of the Russian Federation. In particular, foreign branches and subsidiaries of Russian companies were selected, and now they are being liquidated. Nevertheless, the business managed to prepare for various scenarios. As a result, banks have already recovered from the sanctions shock, and in terms of profits, 2023 became “very successful” for the entire industry, Kostin emphasized.

“It is important that we were able to quickly rebuild. Having lost Western markets, we focused, of course, primarily on Russia, but not only on friendly markets,” said the head of VTB.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and President and Chairman of the Board of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin

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In total, at the moment, almost 19 thousand different sanctions are in force against Russia (over 16 thousand of them were introduced since February 2022, after the start of the SVO). This is more than against Iran, Syria, North Korea, Belarus, Venezuela, Myanmar and Cuba combined, according to materials from the specialized database Castellum.AI.

Western restrictions affected the energy, aviation, trade, banking and financial sectors. In particular, the country's credit institutions were disconnected from the international platform for transmitting financial messages SWIFT, as well as from the Visa and Mastercard payment systems. Along with this, almost half of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves were frozen (worth $300 billion), and many international companies announced their departure from the Russian Federation.

Under these conditions, some analysts initially predicted a collapse of 10-25% in the Russian economy in 2022. However, the real decline was only 1.2% and turned out to be even less deep than in the pandemic year 2020 (2.7%) and the crisis years 2015 (2%) and 2009 (7.8%), they say in the materials of the International Monetary Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation. Moreover, according to the Ministry of Energy, in 2023, GDP managed to fully recover the sanctions losses and grew by 3.6%.

“The economy quickly recovered and began to develop rapidly, which spurred demand for banking products from both businesses and the population. This largely brought record profits to banks, since entrepreneurs were not afraid to take out borrowed funds to invest in their production,” noted Anatoly Aksakov.

Moreover, according to him, over the previous few years the banking sector has partially prepared for Western sanctions. Against this background, the restrictions imposed by unfriendly countries ultimately did not have a destructive effect on the industry. A similar point of view was expressed by Vyacheslav Putilovsky.

“Firstly, the Central Bank’s competent policy in the market played a role, including a set of anti-crisis measures in 2022. In addition, not all countries joined the restrictions, so the sector managed to redirect financial flows to friendly countries, primarily with regard to interbank settlements. Plus, the banks turned out to be relatively ready for sanctions: the MIR payment system, SBP and our alternative SWIFT were created in advance. These foundations greatly helped us cope with the sanctions shock,” concluded Putilovsky.