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Russia tries to counter financial sanctions for Ukraine invasion

As global condemnation grows for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly following the tragic bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol, Russian banks are exploring ways to continue their financial activities. The possibility of issuing “co-badged” cards powered by payment systems like Chinese state-owned UnionPay and Russia’s Mir for international payments is one option being explored. Sberbank, the country’s largest bank by assets, said it will soon reveal a launch date for such cards, while Alfa Bank said it is already “at work” on launching cards based on UnionPay. Russian lender Tinkoff Bank also has similar plans. The banks’ announcement comes soon after Visa, Mastercard, and American Express suspended operations in Russia, which has been put under sweeping financial sanctions from the US and Europe, among others. Within Russia, cards issued by Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will no longer work for payments outside the country. Nor will credit cards issued outside of Russia be usable at the country’s stores or ATMs.

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