Speaking of social networks and money – VK, Russia’s rival to Facebook, is adopting another strategy to part users with their money. While Facebook offers advertises and partners ways to streamline purchase of their goods through the social network directly, VK has something less tangible in mind. The social media platform has now incorporated Mobi. Cash service, which allows direct financial transfers between clients – currently the limit of one transaction is fifteen thousand rubles within the social network. Interestingly, the money transfer cannot be cashed out, but can be used as a virtual mastercard account.
I should note that one of internet laws adopted this spring addressed online payments. Now anonymous payments of over 15,000 are allowed, but only if the recipient is a legal entity. All other cases require mandatory identification. The bill was adopted right around the same time that bloggers were equated to mass media. According to the document, social media personalities who own pages with over 3,000 daily visitors will have to adhere to the laws which apply to media outlets. Such bloggers are required to file with a special register and from then on follow the laws “on mass media.” Individuals who break these laws will have to pay a fine of 10 to 30 thousand rubles; companies will have to pay upwards to 300,000 rubles (around $8400) and may have their website blocked for a month. I wonder how VK and its users will deal with this situation. For example, it’s known for its somewhat ‘grey’ advertisement market. Community pages with thousands and some with a few millions of followers generally post entertainment content. And, of course, they don’t miss the chance to offer commercial messages to sponsors. Since these pages will be considered mass media when the law comes into force, advertisement will have to go through a lot of scrutiny.
Oh, and remember that incident which happened to one Russian e-shopper, who tried buying a phone not designated to be sold in Russia? He bought one online from a European retailer, and instead of receiving his gadget, he received an invitation to the Customs service to explain, why he attempted to smuggle an ‘unlicensed encryption device.’ This story has made quite a splash in the Russian e-shopping and tech community. The story even prompted Yandex.Market – a giant Russian e-mall, aggregating offers of various goods by various retailers – to remove all mentions of the Moto G phone. After all, all such phones sold in Russia were, indeed, smuggled, as the manufacturer did not submit it for mandatory certification.
Interestingly, Moto X – the previous model, which was also not imported to Russia officially – can still be found through the e-shopping aggregator. A popular gadget site Mobile-review published correspondence of Yandex.Market with one vendor who had their Moto G listing pulled – the service said they needed stores to comply with current legislation. It should be noted that Yandex was almost sued for selling ‘grey' (or unlicensed) goods. The company shrugged off accusations made by retailers, noting that they’re only an aggregator and had nothing to do with actual selling; it seems that the company is now changing their stance.