Concerns regarding Mir payment system abroad are somewhat exaggerated - NSPK
KAZAN. Sept 22 (Interfax) - Concerns regarding the Mir card payment system in other countries are somewhat exaggerated, given that three out of five Turkish banks continue to accept it, Vladimir Komlev, general director of the National Payment Card System (NSPK), said at the Banks of Russia 21st Century international banking forum organized by the Association of Banks of Russia.
"I can say that the level of concern and noise around the operation of the Mir system abroad is somewhat exaggerated. I can even say that as far as Kazakhstan is concerned, our partners continue to operate," Komlev said.
"In Turkey, this is probably the sorest subject. Indeed, two out of our five partner banks are commercial, and they have suspended collaboration. They have notified us about this. However, three banks continue to operate to varying degrees. Someone is working and with cards of sanctioned Russian banks," Komlev added.
Turkey's Isbank and DenizBank previously announced the suspension of accepting Mir cards owing to the warning from the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Although the payment volume in Turkey has decreased, there has not been a catastrophic decline, Komlev said. "We continue to see over two-thirds of the turnover, both in terms of the number of transactions and in terms of the volume during the peak period in this direction," he specified.
"Cards [of the Mir payment system] continue to be accepted in Turkey. Certain difficulties have of course appeared for citizens there. The number of points, primarily infrastructural, ATMs, where it was possible to use Mir cards without any problems back in late August and early September, have actually decreased," Komlev noted.
Besides the two Turkish banks, Vietnam's BIDV has also stopped processing the Mir payment system. "There are no changes at all for the rest of the countries," Komlev stressed. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a number of Russian media reported that the People's Bank of Kazakhstan, Halyk Bank, had stopped accepting Mir cards.
Information about countries where Mir cards are accepted is not currently available on the NSPK website. As of early September, Turkey, Vietnam, South Korea, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia accept Mir cards. The possibility of accepting Mir cards was also under discussion with Iran, Cuba, Egypt, and Venezuela.
On September 15 of this year, the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released a document to clarify that non-U.S. financial institutions that enter into agreements with the National Payment Card System (NSPK) risk being involved in actions to circumvent United States sanctions by expanding the territory of use of the Mir payment system outside the Russian Federation. Meantime, the OFAC document specified that the NSPK itself was not on the sanctions lists. OFAC added NSPK general director Vladimir Komlev to the list of blocking sanctions at the same time as publishing the clarification document.
The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) in turn said that it intends to continue speaking with foreign partners on expanding the area where Mir cards are accepted. "Foreign partners themselves take decisions on opening their infrastructure for accepting Mir cards. Meantime, we intend to continue dialogue on expanding the area where Mir cards are accepted," the CBR stressed.
The Russian authorities established the NSPK, which operates Mir cards, in 2014 following a number of sanctions being imposed against Russia. The NSPK announced the start to issue the first Mir cards in December 2015.