11 Nov 2022 09:34

CBR discussing Mir card alternatives with other countries

MOSCOW. Nov 11 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is discussing alternatives to Mir payment cards, one of which could be transfers like express payments, CBR first deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova told reporters on the sidelines of the Finopolis forum.

"We are discussing various arrangements with different countries. Actually, there could be a different solution for each country. It depends a great deal on what kind of infrastructure there is on the other side, in this country, because, in principle, the problem of integrating our national systems with any other foreign system is not that complicated, its solvable," she said.

"The question is whether, for example, that country has an analog of the Express Payment System, or, for example, does that country have an analog of the SPFS [financial messaging system] or Mir cards? If it does, then technologically this is solved easily, like I said. The second question is how ready is the country itself or the country's regulator to cooperate in this regard and move together with us," Skorobogatova said.

"The model that, in principle, is possible for many countries is actually transfers along the lines of express payments. That is, a wallet on one side and the wallet is opened from the other side, and if there are such systems in one country and in another country, they can be integrated, wallets can be topped up already directly in the country to which the tourist travels," she said, adding that the mobile app of that system could then be used.

Skorobogatova said in April that the CBR had worked out the issue of integrating Russia's Express Payment System with a similar system in India.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued clarifications on September 15 stating that non-U.S. financial institutions who enter into agreements with Russia's National Payment Card System (NPCS), the operator of the Mir card system, risk being involved in actions to circumvent U.S. sanctions by expanding the use of Mir cards outside of Russia. The clarification stated that the NPCS itself was not on any sanctions lists. However, at the same time as it published this document OFAC included NPCS chief executive Vladimir Komlev in its sanctions list.

After the OFAC warning, banks in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan completely or partially stopped accepting Mir cards.

The CBR, commenting on the decision of Turkish banks, said it planned to continue its dialog with foreign partners on expanding acceptance of Mir cards. "Foreign partners decide for themselves whether to open their infrastructure to accepting Mir cards. However, we intend to continue the dialog on expanding the geography of Mir card acceptance," the CBR said.

Information about the countries where Mir cards are accepted is not currently available on the NPCS website. As of the beginning of September, Mir cards were accepted in 11 countries: Turkey, Vietnam, South Korea, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The possibility of accepting the cards is also being worked out with Cuba, Egypt and Venezuela.