Visa, MasterCard suspend business, Russian banks switch to China UnionPay

Several Russian banks said they would start using the China UnionPay card operating system plus the self-built MIR payment system to issue cards after U.S. credit card companies Visa and Mastercard announced they would suspend their operations in Russia, Reuters reported.

Russia’s largest bank “Sberbank”, the largest private bank “Alfa Bank” and Tinkoff Bank all alleged that they are studying the introduction of UnionPay cards.

U.S. credit card companies Visa and Mastercard said on Saturday (5th) that they would suspend operations in Russia, halting all transactions with immediate effect. Visa said that within a few days, all Russian-issued Visa cards will be invalid for foreign transactions, and any Visa cards issued outside Russia will not be able to be used in Russia.

Mastercard noted that it has been operating in Russia for more than 25 years and will suspend all Russian operations due to the current unstable economic environment. Cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported on the Mastercard network, and any Mastercard issued abroad will not be accepted at Russian merchants and ATMs.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and became hostile to Western countries, it has begun to work to improve the independence of its own financial system. Russia established its own Financial Information Transmission System (SPFS) as an alternative to the System for Cross-Border Currency Transactions (SWIFT), and its national bank payment system MIR began operations in 2015, ensuring it can still protect itself should sanctions expand.

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