The Margin: Russia’s Mir payment system increasingly isolated, but concerns linger about possible stealth links to the outside world

by | Nov 14, 2022 | Stock Market

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. companies such as Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. were quick to cut links with Russia’s Mir payment system, but the network’s overseas reach remains under scrutiny. Mir is operated by Russia’s National Payment Card System Joint Stock Company (NSPK), which was set up by the Bank of Russia in 2014. At that time, Russia was facing international sanctions following its annexation of Crimea. In 2015 NSPK launched Mir payment system cards — about 140 million Mir cards have been issued by the end of the second quarter of 2022, according to the Bank of Russia.

Amid the international backlash that followed the invasion of Ukraine, major U.S. corporations have exited Russia and the company’s financial system has become increasingly isolated. On March 5, Mastercard
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+1.36%
announced the suspension of its Russia operations. On the same day, Visa
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also suspended its operations in Russia. “There are no Visa transactions occurring within Russia—no banks are connected to the Visa network and no merchants have acceptance privileges,” a spokeswoman told MarketWatch earlier this month. As pressure mounts on Russia, Mir’s international network has shrunk. “Mir payments acceptance outside of Russia is limited to a small number of countries like Cuba and Belarus,” Chris Dinga, a payment analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, told MarketWatch. “Up until last month 11 countries were reported accepting Mir payments.” See Now: Ford exits Russia with joint-venture sale, but Moral Rating Agency slams ‘escape clause’ “Turkey, Kazakhstan and Vietnam used …

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