Runet to Represent 2.8 Percent of Russian GDP by 2016

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Oct. 11 – Russian internet, or Runet, has been labeled the fastest-growing Internet economy in Europe and now represents 1 percent of the country’s GDP, according to a recent report released by the Moscow Higher School of Economics and the Russian Electronic Communications Association.

According to the report, Internet businesses are demonstrating strong sales across the board in areas ranging from website development to online marketing. The value of the web economy in the country will grow 30 percent to 720 billion rubles (around US$23.2 billion) by the year-end 2012, the report says.

A survey conducted last month by the Public Opinion Study Centre, VTSIOM, suggested that 60 percent of the Russian population now uses the Internet compared with just 24 percent in 2006. Meanwhile, the amount of visits to Russia’s two main e-mail services – and Yandex Mail – went up by 22 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

The surge is reflected in the numbers of the report, published on October 10. In 2011, there were more than US$17.8 billion in Internet-related sales, expenditures and payments, which is an average increase of about 30 percent versus 2010.

The largest in volume was online retail, with consumers buying 309 billion rubles’ (around US$9.9 billion) worth of goods online. That figure doesn’t include travel deals.

Consumers paid and stored 167 billion rubles (US$5.39 billion) through online payment systems and at freestanding terminals last year, while advertisers spent 24 billion rubles (US$774 million) on contextual ads and 16 billion rubles (US$516 million) on media advertising.

According to the report, the volume of online sales and payments may grow as much as 30 percent by the end of this year and reach 720 billion rubles (around US$23.2 billion).

The number of Internet users in Russia reached 70 million already by the end of last year, according to the Russian Ministry of Communications. This makes Russia the largest online market in Europe – leaving the former leader, Germany, behind with its 66 million Internet users.

The Ministry of Communications is very optimistic about this development. They expect the number of Internet users in Russia to reach 90 million by 2014. The Russian population stood at 142 million, according to the 2010 census data.

Interestingly, while Russia now represents the largest online audience in Europe, percentage-wise it is only seventh when it comes to email usage. According to the ComScore report, 69.9 percent of Russian Internet users visited some form of web-based email service in June 2012.

A study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group in March 2012 assumes that in four years the Russian Internet economy will be worth 2.3 trillion rubles (around US$74.1 billion), while the sector share will grow to 2.8 percent of GDP.

For comparison, in 2010, the internet economy in the G20 group of leading nations was worth US$2.3 trillion – larger than the economies of Italy or Brazil, but a mere 4.1 percent of the total size of all G20 economies.