George Chesakov, Tinkoff’s International Expansion Lead, discusses with RBI editor Douglas Blakey why it is now the perfect time for the bank to launch internationally.

Russia-based Tinkoff Bank is enjoying a record year with net profit ahead by almost one-third and its share price is up by 160% for the year to date. And now it has set aside $200m to lay the foundation for ambitious international expansion plans

To say that Tinkoff is in rude health, notwithstanding the inevitable challenges of the global pandemic, is a masterly understatement.

Take for starters the bank’s third quarter earnings, released in late November.

There are a good number of highlights but by way of a few key takeaways, the following bullet points give a good summary of Tinkoff in 2021.

Tinkoff Q3 2O21 hits

  • Total customers reached 18.5 million in 3Q 2021 (3Q’20: 12.1 million)
  • Group revenue grew 48% to RUB 71.7 bn in 3Q 2021 (3Q’20: RUB 48.3 bn)
  • Non-credit business lines reached 45% of revenue;
  • Net profit rose 31% to RUB16.5 bn in 3Q 2021 (3Q’20: RUB12.6 bn)
  • ROE of 42.6% in 3Q 2021 (3Q’20: 45.0%)

The bank reported robust performance across its business lines, fuelled by the cross-selling power of the Tinkoff ecosystem.

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Recognising Tinkoff’s quality and role in Russia’s financial system, the Central Bank of Russia now includes Tinkoff Bank in the list of the country’s systemically important financial institutions.

Tinkoff 2021 product highlights

2021 products highlights include the launch of Tinkoff E-commerce to better serve the needs of online merchants, The bank says that Tinkoff E-commerce will create new synergies with Tinkoff Business, taking its offering for businesses of all sizes to a new level.

And in September, the bank unveiled Tinkoff Private to serve the needs of affluent consumers. The bank describes the services as its ‘Swiss banker in a mobile app’ solution, available both via the Tinkoff super app and Tinkoff Investments app.

Meantime, Tinkoff Investments, Russia’s largest brokerage by the number of active customers, is going from strength to strength. Leveraging the power of retail investors, it launched its ECM and DCM advisory services. Tinkoff has also helped Renaissance Insurance and online real estate classifieds platform CIAN go public.

Tinkoff launches ETNA

And in December, Tinkoff’s Centre for AI technologies unveiled ETNA, the first service on the Russian market that helps to analyse and predict a wide range of data-driven processes, ranging from precipitation levels in upcoming winter months to a company’s recruitment needs.

Specifically, ETNA is an open-source tool that is currently available in the programming language Python, but will in the future become accessible to a wider audience of users.

It is an open-source tool that uses data uploaded by users and gathered from public sources to conduct analyses, verify hypotheses and generate forecasts. Among its capacities, ETNA can be used to determine those factors that most affect a company’s profit, forecast demand for specific products, and calculate next year’s budget.

RBI editor Douglas Blakey speaks with George Chesakov, Tinkoff International Expansion Lead


Looking ahead, Tinkoff plans to launch outside Russia and George Chesakov, Tinkoff International Expansion Lead tells RBI that the bank is now making a series of sharply pointed moves to lay the groundwork for new opportunities and engaging with regulators in potentially attractive markets.

Tinkoff shareholders support the bank’s international ambitions and have authorised the Board to have the right to approve potential further share capital issue of up to 5.0% of currently issued capital over the next three years.

Chesakov says that by launching in new markets, and developing new products that enhance the customer experience will ultimately drive value for shareholders.

Tinkoff applied for a banking licence in the Philippines in October and is exploring potential launches in the future into African and South American markets.

Says Chesakov: “We feel we now have the capacity and bandwidth, managerially and technically and the ability to raise capital to grow internationally.

“We still believe in the Russian market-there remains huge growth potential here. But, we need to be looking ahead at the next five, 10, 15 years and find new pockets of growth. When we look outside Russia, we are not thinking about launching in many countries at the same time. Instead, we will focus on a few select opportunities. We need to approach market selection carefully and there a number of basic criteria to be met.

“These include a large, growing and young population, GDP growth, infrastructure, the competitive landscape, lending potential and potential to offer other products.”

Specifically, international expansion within Europe is not on the agenda.

Chesakov adds: “When we look at our criteria, we look eastwards. We believe these markets match what we have in mind.”