Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bank Plans Stymied by Lost Kupon

The failure last week of a Central Bank satellite will delay until 2000 a bank program to provide a real-time banking settlement system for almost all of Russia.

The Kupon satellite, which lost all communication with its controllers last Friday, was to have been operational May 12, providing telephone, fax and computer telecommunications for an interbank communications system called Bankir.

As the first of three satellites in the global program, it was to cover a territory stretching from England to Chita and from Taimyr to South Africa, leaving the Far East as the only part of Russia excluded.

The satellite would have provided real-time interbank settlements, with unused transponders sold to other government structures, including the treasury and the pension fund, and possibly to Russian and foreign commercial firms and banks, said Mikhail Senatorov, the director of the Central Bank's telecommunications department.

The banking community will now have to wait for a second satellite to be operational. It is due to be launched in the second half of 1999, followed by six months of testing, which will push the system back to 2000.

The second device will have twice as much power as the lost satellite and was to take the place of its predecessor, which would in turn have been moved to cover the Far East. The system's third satellite is to back up the first two. Its construction has yet to begin.

The Central Bank declined to give the lost satellite's cost, but a spokesman for insurer Ingosstrakh said the claim will amount to $86 million, of which $2.5 million is covered by Ingosstrakh, $2.1 million by other Russian reinsurers, and the rest by foreign reinsurers.

The insurer said Wednesday it was forming a commission composed of officials from Ingosstrakh, the Central Bank, the Russian Space Agency and manufacturer Lavochkin to investigate the failure.

Kommersant Daily newspaper reported that manufacturing the three satellites and placing them in orbit would cost about $390 million.

The Kupon satellite was lost due to the failure of two devices for synchronizing the electronic systems that are considered the heart of the system. Only one of the devices is needed to operate the satellite."

It is a unique case that two devices failed at the same time," said Stanislav Kulikov, head of Lavochkin, which has produced more than 100 satellites. "Most likely, the failure with Kupon happened because of a drop in the country's level of technological discipline."