The Gorod System’s Expansion and Growth
Twelve interesting facts about the National Gorod System
Gorod is Russia’s largest automated system to collect and process utility payments, and it is celebrating its 12th birthday. On April 6, 1999, the Gorod System processed its first transaction. On this 12th anniversary, we are proud to share some little-known or forgotten, amusing, and nostalgic facts about the Gorod System.
1. Its origins
The Gorod System was developed in Novokuznetsk at the request of Kuznetskbiznesbank. It was this bank that suggested the idea for the technology that later spread throughout Russia. The program was originally called the Utility Payment Management System (UPMS), and it still operates under this name in the Kemerovo region.
The system’s first service provider was Gorvodokanal in Novosibirsk, and the first payment collection agent was subdivision No. 99 of the Novosibirsk telecommunications system. Today, Telekomservis utilizes the Gorod System to collect payments in the city.
3. Gorod System 2.0
Gorod System 2.0 was released In February 2001, at which point the system began its rapid expansion throughout the Russian regions by sales of its software licenses. The National Gorod System has twelve subsidiaries; the local Gorod Systems are operated in a number of regions under licenses issued by the National Gorod System. The systems have been very successful because they have been carefully tailored to their local markets and allow their users to pay for almost anything, anywhere in the region.
4. Exceptionally profitable investments
Ten years ago, the core system could be purchased for $12,000. So, clearly, those who bought and set up the local Gorod Systems were getting a good deal. Currently, the Center of Financial Technologies, the developer and owner of the Gorod System, does not sell system licenses.
5. A national brand
In 2006, the Gorod System stopped selling licenses and outsourced its server to the Krasnoyarsk territory, the second largest region in Russia after Novosibirsk. The same year, the Payment Acceptance service of the StranaExpress network became a part of the Gorod brand. In 2004–2006 StranaExpress had developed instant payment and quick money transfer services. This merger resulted in a sharp increase in the number of the Gorod System’s payment locations, which included the Golden Crown, a nationwide self-service payment system.
6. Super money collectors
Throughout its history, the Gorod System has actively worked with Sberbank of Russia and Russian Post, the biggest collectors of payments from the Russian population. In the first year of the Gorod System’s operations, it signed its first agreements with the Sberbank’s Siberian Bank and Russian Post. Currently, 10 of Sberbank’s regional banks as well as the Federal Postal Service offices in 14 Russian regions collect payments using the Gorod System.
7. A Gorod System exclusive
The Gorod System is also known as ISAPP (Integrated System for Accepting Payments from the Public), and this was the name of system version created in 2005 for Sberbank of Russia.
8. New trends
Last year the National Gorod System partnered with a number of ambitious new national projects, such as the Kukuruza payment card for the biggest national retailer, Euroset, and the Sviaznoy Bank, the first national retail bank specializing in cell phone banking. All the services that can be paid through the Kukuruza card’s online payment site or through the Sviaznoy Internet Bank are processed via the Gorod System. Currently, the Kukuruza card’s online payment site includes more than 1,350 services and the Sviaznoy Internet Bank provides 2,450 services, and these numbers are constantly increasing.
9. A ‘Multitalented Operator’
At various stages of its development, the Gorod System was further adjusted so that airline tickets could be sold by travel agencies, individual bank accounts could be opened and deposits made, and even to enable the distribution of humanitarian aid—American lentils.
10. A people-oriented system
The Gorod System has always been a social project. This is due not only to the significance of housing and utility issues to the community, but because the public turns to the Gorod System for assistance and answers to many important issues. For example, a woman once phoned their call center to find out about any utility payments her husband might be making on another apartment, because she was suspicious he was involved with another woman. And there was the married man who was very concerned that his last name not be printed on the payment receipt when he paid the bills for his girlfriend’s apartment. Many colorful human stories find their way to the Gorod System’s call center.
11. One man makes a team
The Gorod System team originally consisted of only three employees. Currently, more than 120 people work for the Gorod System in Novosibirsk and its local offices in nine regions. They are responsible for coordinating work throughout Russia. More than 400,000 man-hours have been spent so far on the development of the System.
12. An umbrella brand
The Gorod System began as a system to collect and process payments. However, it became evident that the need to calculate payments in the housing and utilities sector was equally pressing, as was the work to register people at their place of residence and to account for social benefits payments and subsidies. So, the Center for Calculation of Payments, the Passport Office, and the Social Security software systems were developed as a part of the Gorod System brand.