Citi Russia Helping Moskovites Pay City Bills

ZAO Citibank has launched a free service that enables Moscow residents to pay their city real-estate, telephone and energy bills automatically by billing to their Citibank debit or credit card accounts, the Moscow-based company announced Oct. 17.

The Russian bank has offered online bill-payment services since 2007, but the new service connects directly with the billing agencies and companies to determine the payment amount, Maria Lagutina, e-management head at Citi Russia, tells PaymentsSource.

“Before, if the payment amount varied from month to month, the customer had to make a separate payment each month manually,” she says.

The new system, called One Bill, requires customers to enroll once. Citi then handles all payments automatically. Customers will receive a text message two days before payments go out for their utility bills, notifying them about the upcoming payments and amounts.

One Bill covers payments to MosgorEIATs, a government-owned real-estate service; to MGTS, the Moscow city telephone network that provides landline telephone services; and to Mosenergosbyt, the electric utility for Moscow and the surrounding region.

Besides paying their own bills, Citi customers also may opt to pay bills on behalf of relatives or others, the company announced.

According to Lagutina, 7% of Citi customers use e-bill services each month, and the percentage is growing. For example, the number of utility payments made electronically has grown by 30% over the past six months, she says.

Citi was among the first international banks to enter the Russian market when it established a local bank, ZAO Citibank, in Moscow in 1993. The bank now has 55 retail branches, 350 ATMs and offices in 11 Russian cities.

The bank serves more tan 900,000 customers across Russia, more than 450,000 of whom have Citi credit cards.

Citibank offers MasterCard-branded credit cards denominated in rubles, including several special-interest cards offering airline miles, telephone minutes or gas station discounts.

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