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March 7, 2022updated 23 Mar 2022 9:56am

Russian banks turn to China’s UnionPay for card issuance

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Russian banks are looking to tap China’s UnionPay after US payment majors Mastercard, Visa and American Express suspended their service in the country following its invasion of Ukraine, reported Reuters.

Russia’s apex bank said that regional banks will look to use UnionPay after credit cards issued by Russian lenders using the Visa and Mastercard payment systems stop functioning overseas after 9 March 2021.

Some of the Russian banks are planning to issue cards using UnionPay.

According to the Bank of Russia, several Russian lenders already use UnionPay, which is available across 180 countries.

The central bank added that the other banks, such as Sberbank and Tinkoff, could start issuing cards co-badging the domestic Mir payments system along with UnionPay.

The Bank of Russia also said that Russian-issued Mastercard and Visa cards can be used within the country until their expiry.

The overseas ban also includes cards issued by local subsidiaries of foreign banks.

Mastercard and Visa suspended their operations in Russia and announced that they would cease all transactions in the country over the coming days.

Previously, the card companies blocked several Russian lenders and financial institutions on their payment network to comply with sanction on Russia by the US and European countries.

American Express also suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus, shortly after it cut off partnerships with sanctions-hit banks in Russia.

In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, a host of fintech firms suspended their payment services to Russia.

UK fintech firm Wise and Lithuania-based fintech Paysera were among the first to restrict their payment services in Russia.

These firms were joined by Remitly, TransferGo and Zepz last week.

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