WebMoney is an online payment settlement system established in Russia in 1998. It is one of the largest electronic payments processors in Russia by number of users, with the company reporting 41 million registered accounts and 300,000 active weekly users in early 2020, and 100,000 stores accepting payments via the system. WebMoney is owned and operated by WM Transfer Ltd.
WebMoney users’ funds are stored in a “purse”, which holds electronic money corresponding to an underlying asset, such as a currency. The underlying assets for WebMoney units are held by a global network of companies that act as guarantors for the payment system. Guarantors accept deposits in the underlying assets and issue the corresponding WebMoney units. WebMoney Transfer can be used for peer-to-peer payments, and includes an escrow system. It charges 0.8% of the transacted amount in fees, up to a maximum fee of €50.
WebMoney provides an application called WebMoney Keeper for using their payments services, for Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and Blackberry. In 2006, security researcher Kris Kaspersky criticised WebMoney Keeper Classic for Windows, as it installed a low-level device driver that allowed direct access to the I/O ports and accessed the hard disk directly using ATA commands instead of via the operating system.
The company was founded in November 1998 in Russia as a money transfer system for United States dollars, in the wake of the 1998 Russian financial crisis that had led to increased US dollar use in Russia.
In November 2015, WebMoney Europe Ltd, based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, was granted an FCA licence to issue e-money within the European Economic Area.
In 2015, WebMoney launched crowdfunding platform WebMoney Funding for implementation of projects under the principle of voluntary donations, participation in group purchasing and event planning.
The WebMoney Transfer system offered the solution of accepting payments via QR code for restaurants and shops. Customers need to scan a QR code displayed on the cash till screen and confirm the payment. In 2019, Burger King Russia has partnered with WebMoney Transfer to integrate QR code payments for customers.
In 2019, Sberbank said that WebMoney had joined its instant transfer ecosystem, allowing clients to make instant transfers from Sberbank cards to WebMoney purses and vice versa. The recipient’s phone number (which the card or purse is tied to) is needed to transfer funds.
In June 2013, the Ukrainian government seized computer equipment from the Ukrainian guarantor and froze 60 million UAH (US$7.5 million) of funds residing on guarantor’s accounts in Ukraine, causing Ukrainian WebMoney transactions to be blocked. Officials of the Ministry of Revenues and Duties of Ukraine said that there were major irregularities in the operations of the company acting as the Ukrainian guarantor, and that the rules of the operation of the payment system were not agreed with the National Bank of Ukraine. The ministry described WebMoney as an “illegal system” that was suspected of being used for money laundering and tax evasion, and the central bank said that WebMoney did not have a licence to operate in Ukraine. WebMoney transactions resumed in Ukraine the following week.
In March 2015, the Ukrainian guarantor’s bank accounts were released after a court ruling. Later that year, the National Bank of Ukraine and the State Savings Bank of Ukraine partnered with WebMoney.UA.
In May 2018, the National Bank of Ukraine has abolished the registration of the inner-state payment system WebMoney.UA (the subsidiary of ‘Financing company ElMI’, Kyiv) as it was put on the sanctions list of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.
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Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder TBIL.co STATX Fund.