Russian fintech miracle — Payment kiosk

Nice article on Russian industry that really took off.

Excerpt:

Anna Kuzmina
Oct 24, 2018 · 5 min read

Once upon a time in cold Russia of 2000 something important happened. A new payment system was born. It would soon dominate the whole country, become part of daily life of every single Russian, and spread across the borders to neighbouring Ukraine, Belarus and various X-stans.

The invention so ingenious that it is still unclear why it did not take off in comparable cash markets of Africa or South-East Asia. System so smart and obvious that many would not believe it was born, designed and engineered in Mother Russia. There is no other region on Earth that would have it to this day. I am still amazed at that too.

In the late 90s, early 00s there were no smartphones, iPhone was still years ahead, and the population was increasingly accepting the idea of the personal mobile phone. Mobile phones were becoming cheaper and cheaper, and everyone got a chance to own one.

Mobile operators issued scratch-cards with the airtime value, and you could buy those either in the telco offices, or through their agents. Scratch-card had a value, and you were supposed to dial the number on the card, scratch and enter the PIN from it (guided by the voice instructions). Much like in Kenya now and before, or the rest of Africa, the agent network was the main force for the operators, and the scratch-card — the main vehicle.

The history has many names of the first companies and persons that were responsible for the birth of this new payment system, and some of them are still very much active in the fintech space even today. Anyways, a machine was designed to sell airtime and accept cash for it. It is called payment terminal — literally, when crudely translated from Russian, and up to this day there is no obvious English name for it. For the lack of such thing anywhere else. I call it — payment kiosk, ATM-like machine, payment box, etc. And then show a picture.