Skip to content
Subscriber Only

This Bizarre Russian ATM Wants to Lend You Money

A gambling magnate is capitalizing on Russia's economic woes with cash machines that grant micro-loans
A loan ATM from SMS Finance at Kursk railway station in Moscow.
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Walking past a row of vending machines and ATMs at the Kursky train station in Moscow, Sergei Amirkhanov stops in front of a bright orange cash machine. Instead of inserting his bank card, he scans his passport, poses for a photo and enters his mobile number. He receives a text message on his phone a few minutes later, telling him to return to the machine and withdraw the cash he needs.

This strange kind of ATM began popping up at railway stations and shopping malls around Moscow last year. It looks like a regular cash machine, but it's designed to accept loan applications and dole out money on the spot.