In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have announced that all operations in Russia will be suspended. The impact on consumers, though, has already been minimized by Russia’s big banks. Until the cards’ expiration dates, shoppers will be able to use them to make purchases in Russia. However, foreign-issued Visa, Mastercard, or American Express cards will no longer operate in Russian stores or ATMs.
Clients will no longer be able to use their Russian cards outside of Russia, nor will they be able to make foreign payments online. Outside of China, Visa and Mastercard alone handle almost 90% of all credit and debit payments. Previously, Russia’s central bank stated that all Visa and Mastercard bank cards issued by Russian banks would continue to function normally on Russian soil. This is due to the fact that domestic payments in Russia are made using a national system that is not reliant on foreign systems.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, said its cards will continue to work “to withdraw cash, make transfers using the card number, and for payment at both offline and online Russian stores.” The Russian government has mandated that all domestic payment transactions be processed there since 2015. Following the annexation of Crimea, Visa and Mastercard suspended operations there as well. To avoid any negative impact on consumers, several Russian banks have stated that they may begin issuing cards that use the Chinese UnionPay system in conjunction with Russia’s Mir payment network.
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