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NOVO-OGARYOVO, March 31 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has asked the chief executive officer of the country’s largest retail savings bank, Sberbank, German Gref, to never forget about the bank’s social role.
“You and me both of us know perfectly well that in some localities there are no other bank offices, and the chances there may emerge any are meager. Should a local Sberbank office be closed, this will cause great inconveniences to people. They will have to travel a long way to get any kind of service, to get cash or open an account, and so on,” Putin said at a meeting with Gref.
“After all Sberbank is a very special institution. We support it. We have always supported it, and we shall keep doing so. I do hope that this social aspect of your work will not be pushed into the background,” Putin said.
“We are perfectly aware of this, and we shall by no means be taking any radical steps until technologies have been created to make the full range of these services available to rural residents,” Gref said.
At the same time he acknowledged that from the economic standpoint it would be feasible to close down a third of the bank’s offices.
“It is not economically reasonable for us, but we have been trying to do our utmost to achieve lossless operation,” Gref said.
“Certainly, you are the leader in the field of introduction of new technologies,” Putin said. “This is something you should give thought to – how to use these technologies to ease pressures on offices in general and to retain the national network.”
“In cooperation with Russia’s high-tech companies we have been working on fundamentally new technologies capable of addressing this task,” the bank’s chief said. “We shall do nothing drastic until we have coped with this task,” Gref promised.