Russia and China to open joint e-commerce platform in summer

Logo "Yandex Money" at the Forum Russian Internet Week. (RIA Novosti / Grigoriy Sisoev)
Russian online payment system Yandex.Money is to start processing payments for China’s online platform TradeEase, which is aimed at increasing cross-border trade between the two countries.

The project is expected to have a turnover of $830,000 in the first 3 months after it starts in the summer.

The platform will be launched by China’s PayEase payment service, Bank of China, China’s Heilongjiang province and the border city of Suifenhe, Vedomosti reported on Thursday.

About 10 salesmen from the city of Suifenhe and other cities in the southern province of Heilongjiang will join the online platform in the beginning. The number is expected to grow to several hundred within a month after the launch and to exceed 1000 by the end of the year, according to Yandex.Money documents, Vedomosti said.

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The average spend on Chinese online stores accepting payments through Yandex.Money is currently $58 and is expected to be comparable on the TradeEase platform, says the Deputy Commercial Director for Yandex.Money, Anna Kuzmina.

The new platform will allow Chinese shops operating on the border with Russia to sell their goods online. Trade between the Chinese province of Heilongjiang and Russia exceeded $23 billion in 2014, accounting for about a quarter of the total trade turnover between Russia and China. Nevertheless, the fall of the ruble has led to a decline in tourist traffic in Suifenhe, which is the most popular shopping city in the province, so the e-commerce platform will help Chinese businesses maintain Russian customers; the CEO of PayEase was quoted as saying by Vedomosti.

Last month China’s ambassador to Moscow said the Russian ruble’s slump would not significantlyaffectChina-Russia trade and cooperation. The ruble lost almost a half of its value against the dollar in 2014 due to plummeting oil prices and Western economic sanctions. In late 2014, Russia and China agreed to switch trading settlements to local currencies to reduce dependence on the US dollar and create an alternative within the global financial system.

Chinese online stores are the most popular foreign e-commerce platforms among Russia’s online customers, according to the results of the recent survey by Yandex.Market and Germany’s Research Institute.

Last week China announced the setting up of a pilot cross-border e-commerce zone to improve the country’s overseas e-commerce industry.

China is Russia’s second largest trading partner after the EU, after hitting a record $59 billion in the first half of 2014. The two countries are planning to increase bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2020.