Influx of saving deposits from abroad observed
The banking sector notes that the share of non-residents’ savings deposits has always been small in the total structure of savings; however, recently, private investors from abroad have become more active. Many banks are recognising a rise in volume from such savers and it’s hardly a surprise, as the interest rate offered is far beyond that received elsewhere.
Even Russian unit investment funds, which have been draining away savers from our banks with tempting rates, are now secondary to the Belarusian financial sector. The National Bank of Belarus tells us that non-resident depositors have shown a 25 percent rise in their share of savings with the Belarusian banking system. Moreover, at the peak of the currency crisis (in mid-2011) non-residents contributed 98 percent of all foreign currency resources attracted into the funds of banks. It’s no surprise since Belarusian Roubles are currently enjoying great popularity among savers.
“Most savers are connected with Belarus in some way; they have businesses in our country, or study here, or have relatives or friends,” explains Sergey Tsybulin, Deputy Head of the Retail Business Development Department of the RRB-Bank. “However, Belarus is still ‘terra incognita’ to most foreigners and the Belarusian Rouble is not viewed as a stable currency for unconditional investment.”
The attraction of funds from non-residents is a major focus area, with Belarus’ Banking Sector Development Strategy for 2011-2015 aiming to attract up to $30bn from foreign savers in coming years. Meanwhile, Belarusian citizens’ deposits with foreign banks have fallen considerably, due to higher interest rates on the local market. Rates stand at around 5-7 percent per annum in neighbouring Russia for savings in Russian Roubles and just 2-3 percent for Euros and US Dollars; there is no comparison!
Meanwhile, Russian banks are less flexible than Belarusian in their terms regarding savings, with high rates only offered for large sums placed in long-term accounts, with severe penalties for early redemption.
If we look to the EU, rates are even less profitable; rates for US Dollar savings begin at 1.5 percent for six months, reaching 2.5 percent for a three year term (2 and 3.5 percent respectively for Euro deposits). Meanwhile, national legislation requires Belarusian individuals to have a permit from the National Bank in order to open an account abroad.