2 Apr 2024 22:19

Russian Central Bank looking to solve problems with acceptance of Mir cards abroad using Fast Payment System capabilities and Russian bank subsidiaries

MOSCOW. April 2 (Interfax) - The Russian Central Bank is working on options for using Mir payment system cards abroad in the context of sanctions, and is studying the possibility of expanding the ATM networks of overseas subsidiaries of Russian banks as well as the Fast Payment System (FPS) in other countries, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Olga Skorobogatova said.

The United States imposed sanctions against the National Payment Card System (NSPK) on February 23. The company stated that the sanctions would not affect the operation of the Russian payment infrastructure. At the same time, foreign banks make the decision to accept Mir cards in their infrastructure independently; there are no restrictions on the part of the payment system itself, NSPK said.

Most banks in Armenia stopped accepting Mir cards as of March 30 due to sanctions risks. There are similar problems in other countries, including in the post-Soviet space.

"Despite the fact that the risk of secondary sanctions by our foreign counterparties has been identified as significant, we see countries that are working with us to expand infrastructure and who will continue cross-border cooperation on this topic. Several countries have opened their ATMs and POS terminals 100 percent. I can't name them, but they exist, including tourist destinations where our citizens travel quite actively," Skorobogatova said in the State Duma.

Russian banks are operating in countries that, due to the threat of secondary sanctions, have refused to accept Mir cards, she said. "We are currently working on the issue with our banks so that they can expand their ATM networks and networks of POS terminals. The scope of this network is currently being worked out," she said.

At the same time, some countries that previously did not work very actively with the Central Bank on this issue have now become more active, she said. "This is mainly not in the near abroad, but farther afield. We see interest from many countries in giving these opportunities to our tourists and their citizens," Skorobogatova said.

"The second topic that we are simultaneously working on in terms of cross-border transactions for citizens is the opportunity to replenish fintech solutions in foreign countries via FPS. We also have several of these projects ongoing, and at the moment, this is a highest-priority scheme, because it technologically carries fewer risks for our counterparties," she added.

The answer to the question as to whether the target number of countries accepting Mir cards will change (the Central Bank previously stated that by 2030 it plans to connect 30 countries to the payment system) will be clear in the middle of this year, Skorobogatova said.

Mir cards were accepted in 11 countries as of early September 2022: Turkey, Vietnam, South Korea, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2023, NSPK announced that Mir cards would start being accepted in Cuba and Venezuela.