Two months after it started looking for a “strategic buyer” for its online payment service, Yandex has officially announced that it will form a joint venture on the Yandex.Money platform with the largest Russian bank Sberbank, which will acquire 75% of the service for $60 million.

A few hours after the first unconfirmed rumors hit local media, Yandex confirmed the deal. Evgenia Zavalishina, Yandex.Money’s current CEO, will take the lead of the new joint venture and will join its board of directors together with Yandex’s CEO Arkady Volozh and three representatives of Sberbank.

The goal of the joint venture is to create “innovative online retail payment solutions,” Yandex stated. The companies promise to release new products under the Yandex.Money brand soon, saying that developer teams are already working together.

Legally speaking, the deal doesn’t change much for existing Yandex.Money users, as they will remain customers of a “non-banking credit organization operating under a license issued by the Central Bank of Russia,” according to Yandex’s announcement .

Money for sale

The first news about Yandex going to sell its payment service broke in October 2011. A year later, Yandex reclassified Yandex.Money as assets and liabilities held for sale, as the company was “actively seeking to transfer majority control of Yandex.Money to a strategic buyer.”

It’s worth mentioning that collaboration between Yandex and Sberbank began back in February 2011, when they signed another agreement, which ensured that Yandex.Money’s customers could add funds to their accounts using ATMs of Sberbank.

Yandex.Money is one of the leading electronic payment services in Russia, its main rivals at the local market are WebMoney and QIWI.

In April 2012, Yandex introduced a possibility for its electronic payment service’s users to get a MasterCard debit card to make payments both online and offline. This put Yandex.Money, which also has mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, on a par with international rival services like PayPal and Boku, which also offer its customers debit cards.

Yandex.Money posted $12.5 million in revenue for 2011, up 46% compared to 2010. In the first half of 2011 the service’s revenue reached $7.9 million.

Image credit: AFP / Getty Images.