The interview was made with QUORUS GmbH and published in Russland Wirtschaft. During a recent interview with Russland Wirtschaft, Michael Donald, a founder and the chairman of the Swiss company ImageNpay, talked about the Skolkovo Foundation’s role in ImageNpay entering the Russian and CIS markets. ImageNpay is a digital and mobile platform that allows customers to personalize payment cards, thus reinventing the digital wallet with added value, and Mr. Donald highlighted the platform’s potential to do well on the Russian market. 

Michael Donald, chairman and founder of ImageNpay. Photo:


ImageNpay is already using a team of Russian programmers working for a NASDAQ listed company, as its key markets this year and next are the CIS countries and Russia itself. According to Mr. Donald, the country has some of the world’s best programmers in the payments area and it is a big market for FinTech; MTS and Tinkoff have served as examples of Russia as an early adopter of mobile payments and mobile payments at point of sales (POS). With a large population that regularly uses global payment brands such as Apple Pay, Visa, MasterCard and Russia’s own payment system, MIR, ImageNpay should be able to scale with key partners.

Mr. Donald stated that his company seeks to collaborate with the Skolkovo Foundation as he regards it as “a great place to be if you are a Russian or international company looking to break into the Russian market.”

The process for becoming a Skolkovo resident does not differ, whether it is for a domestic or a foreign company. Like the current Skolkovo residents did when they applied, the Swiss company will register for the Skolkovo Soft-Landing program; this the first step in the process towards gaining residency. 

The Skolkovo Soft-Landing program is a two week immersion course giving companies a broad insight into how to conduct business in Russia, local procedure and also how to apply for Skolkovo residency. Having a Skolkovo residency carries many benefits, including tax incentives, grants, patent protection and so on. Gaining this status, however, is by no means guaranteed; the applicant must give a number of presentations, describe the business model in detail, the innovation in question, be able to show what the company will bring to the Russian market and how scalable the business is; i.e. can it scale globally? As things stand, ImageNpay is waiting for feedback on its performance in the Soft-Landing program. In this regard, Skolkovo is serving its purpose not only in supporting domestic companies, but also foreign businesses.

Further information on becoming a Skolkovo resident is available on the Skolkovo website.