Russia experiences more than its share of violence and turmoil in the early 20th Century, going through World War I, the revolution and Civil War. Yet none of these events hinder Sberbank's robust and sustainable growth.

At this time of crisis, Sberbank manages to preserve deposits by declaring them to be untouchable. The banking sector, however, fails to emerge unscathed: commercial secrecy is effectively abolished, with the government obligating savings bank outlets to keep the authorities informed on the account balances of their customers.

Russia's new economic policy precipitates far-reaching changes in the banking system: savings bank outlets start making money transfers, issuing bonds and dealing in interest-bearing securities.