Entering a new market, especially an immature one, companies have to think about lots of things. For many corporations markets like Russia or China are difficult to crack. If you ask me why, I say, because they are not localized enough. Why Google failed in Russia? Why eBay failed in Japan? All for the same reason: clueless about markets and their business culture.
Opening an online business in Russia, one has to consider the differences in design and usability, SEO and PPC techniques, linguistics, but even doing all of the above right, the business can fail, because people are simply not able to pay for products and services.
Many payment methods such as PayPal do not even operate in Russia. Moneybookers is available, but not very common.
According to a report, recently published by RuMetrica (in Russian), only 40% of Russian people own a credit card. Out of those 40% only 29% of those use credit cards on a daily basis (this makes it 12% of the total population). The majority of credit card owners in Russia use them for receiving salaries, then going to the ATMs. Only 5% of credit card owners confirm that they at least once used their cards to purchase products or services online.
Seems difficult, right? Not living in Russia for many years myself, I am having a hard time to explain why credit cards are not used more. Could be because the banks are still very bureaucratic and do not provide enough transparency. Could be due to a lot of fraud in this area.
Working for several years with the Russian market, I learned that without WebMoney an online business in bound to fail.
WebMoney is a PayPal clone, a payment system targeted primarily at the Russian market. From what I heard, setting up a business account can be a hassle, but without WebMoney there will be no business.
Yandex provides an alternative payment method called Yandex.Dengi. I’ve never used it myself, to be honest, but it seems to be relative big and have partnerships with the major mobile operators, online retailers and airlines.
Taking it even further, one can consider getting into offline terminals for online payments. Yes, right, offline. Looking something like this, these terminals are all over the place. They take cash, a small commission, and for that provide a possibility to make payments for various services, including ISP fees, mobile phone bills, money transfers and even some online gambling sites :)
The bottom line: make sure to include the payment methods for your online business in Russia into your business plan, and on an early stage.