Russian online bank Tinkoff cuts new lending, says it can withstand shocks

MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) - Russian online bank Tinkoff said on Friday it had reduced new lending, and temporarily halted offering some loan products, but added its capital buffers had been strengthened and its business was capable of withstanding severe shocks.

Tinkoff, which reported a record annual profit earlier on Friday, said it was in uncharted territory, eight days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine that triggered a huge wave of Western sanctions against Russian businesses and banks.

"We are used to dealing with crises," Co-CEO Oliver Hughes told an investor call. "This is a very different crisis.

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"We have abundant liquidity in both roubles and foreign currency. We have very strong capital buffers which have actually just been made even stronger by the central bank's alleviation measures."

Hughes said customers were panicking about where they could safely keep their money.

However, he said Tinkoff was "somewhat bizarrely" seeing added liquidity because it was not a sanctioned bank. It also retained functionality on Apple Pay and Google Pay for now.

The bank was not seeing signs of delinquency on loans, he said, and the central bank's interest rate hike on Feb. 28 to 20% was encouraging customers to keep money in deposits.

"We remain committed to servicing our debt," said Co-CEO Pavel Fedorov. "We are committed to staying a public company."

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Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton

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