Helping the people of Ukraine – Exclusive interview with Misha Rogalskiy, monobank

Wednesday 30 March 2022 09:20 CET | Editor: Oana Ifrim | Interview

The Paypers speaks with Misha Rogalskiy of monobank on how they're keeping the bank going, making sure that their customers can make and receive payments as well as supporting their customers who have had to flee their homes

What is monobank’s current strategy to ensure business continuity and team safety during this extraordinary circumstance?

First and foremost, I’d say that our business, as well as all the businesses I personally know, is focusing on one thing: to do everything in our power to support the effort of our armed forces and local armed groups to fight the war. On our side, it’s also crucial to maintain our infrastructure and to maintain a banking system as the backbone of Ukraine's economy. So, we are doing a lot to ensure continuity. We are focusing on creating a third data centre and then we seek to create data duplication in the cloud. So we have a plan B, C, and D; we’re doing anything we can to double and triple what we are doing now.

For instance, we use Starlink’s antenna that the company sent to Ukraine as yet another alternative option for connection in our data centres. 

In terms of the team’s safety and security, this is a very important topic as well. A lot of our team members haven’t left their homes, they still live in the same place as they were before the war. Ironically, the COVID crisis taught us all how to work remotely. So even things like customer support can be done from any safe place that has a stable internet connection. This helps the operational part of the business.

We've partnered with our good friends from a UK-based company called Clear Junction that helped us to create a mirror account for the SEPA payments and faster payments schemes. Now, people from Europe or the UK can make payments to this national bank account just by using the SEPA IBAN or the so-called account number.

You can do this payment even from your online banking. To get those bank account details, you should go to

How is Monobank supporting the country during this time? 

As I already said, we are trying to do everything possible to support the country. And we do so through things that are more natural to us as a fintech company. For example, we have been facilitating payments. A first initiative we took at the beginning was to create a page on our website that helps people from across the world to donate money for a special purpose account of our national bank.

We know that making a SWIFT payment can take a lot of hassle, and friction and hassle is something that kills conversion. We created an easy page where people can just make a payment with Apple Pay or regular card payment and the money goes directly to that national bank account. 

Have you encountered openness in terms of partnerships (with either financial institutions or service providers) to enable you to better serve your customers?

Apart from our partnership with Clear Junction, which was done in just a couple of days, there are a lot of initiatives from European partners, such as money transfer companies MoneyGram, Western Union, and Ria that are doing a good job in supporting people who left the country. They waived the fee to transfer money to Ukraine. 

There are a lot of things being done by our Ministry of Digital Transformation and their partnerships with PayPal or Starlink, all these things that became available in Ukraine within the last month, which help a lot under these circumstances.

Have you noticed any progress in terms of regulations that allowed you to navigate these extremely difficult times?

In terms of regulation, the National Bank introduced a lot of measures to limit the shock to the financial sector. And now there are a lot of new laws in indexation, in just doing business. The government is doing whatever it can to encourage businesses to operate. If there was an initial shock for one or two weeks, they now call for small and medium business owners to open the doors of their stores, cafes, and other small enterprises, because the economy has to operate for the country to be sustainable. From my observation, I see more and more businesses are opening their doors even though, especially in Eastern Ukraine, a lot of people have left and there's a shortage of workforce. But, despite this, everyone is trying to bring back not business as usual, but some kind of business operations.

Outside the obvious humanitarian disaster in Ukraine, what is the main impact on the consumer, financially speaking?

Regarding the impact on consumers, of course, everyone's still in shock. So, it's hard to assess any middle-term effect of this disaster on people's finances. Big industries have stopped, and people left their homes, lost their income, all of this has a big impact.

The government stepped in, introducing a programme that grants UAH 6500 to everyone who was affected by the war. If you were living in one of the cities where the fighting had begun, or you are a business owner who was forced to stop operating because of the war, then you will get this one-off payment. This programme is based on the same system that the government used for its programme for the COVID vaccine payments. However, now it is accessible to everyone, without any restriction on whether they had the COVID vaccination or not. 

What about people with loans? Can Ukrainian benefit from 'credit vacations'?

In terms of loans, different banks introduced various options. One of the first things that Monobank did was to extend the grace period for one month and we are also not reporting anyone who is not making the minimum payments. This is what the National Bank encouraged banks to do.

Of course, people who are in awful situations, like those in Mariupol and Kharkiv, or those who lost their jobs, don't have to make payments. End of the day, it's a matter of whether we would be able to give back people's savings that we used to lend out. We explained to customers that our requirements to service debt are a prerequisite for our banking system to remain operational and stable. Judging from the numbers that we see, people are on board with this and they continue to honour their obligations for loan agreements.

monobank has set up a fundraising page for people outside of Ukraine to help with the war effort; this is a mirror account in Faster Payments (UK), SEPA (EU) and SWIFT (US), which you can find here:

About Misha Rogalskiy

Misha Rogalskiy is a co-founder of monobank, Ukraine's first mobile-only bank, that went from 0 to top-2 in the market in just 4 years; also a co-founder of The Credit Thing - a UK challenger credit card provider launched in 2021. The idea is to bring social graph scoring and other new credit risk assessment methods to the underserved market of people with a thin or no credit history. The Credit Thing is the UK’s first credit provider built on e-money.

About monobank

monobank is a Ukrainian mobile-only bank launched in 2017 that became one of the fastest growing and profitable banks globally with more than 5 million customers. It started as a credit card provider, which allowed it to build a profitable business model even at early stages. Today monobank does savings accounts, cards in different currencies, online and off-line acquiring, has gamification features of the app, and the friendliest customer support.

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Keywords: Russia Ukraine War, digital banking, payments , online banking
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Ukraine
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech