Visa and Mastercard suspend their services in Russia

Visa and Mastercard are suspending operations in Russia, another major blow to the country’s financial system, according to a report by Associated Press

In an announcement on Visa’s website, the company said it is working with partners in Russia to “stop all transactions in the coming days.” A separate press release from Mastercard contains a similar statement, noting that it is suspending its services in Russia and that its decision was not taken “lightly”. Both companies explain that transactions with Mastercard or Visa cards issued by banks in Russia will not work outside of Russia, while cards issued by banks outside the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.

“We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues and on the customers, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia,” said Visa CEO Al Kelly. “This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand a response in line with our values.”

As noted by Bloomberganyone with a card issued in Russia can still pay for products and services with Mastercard and Visa cards, but neither financial company will process the transactions – the Russian National Payment Card System (NSPK) will have to handle them instead.

The announcement of Visa and Mastercard comes shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US lawmakers and asked them to cease operations of both companies in Russia. “Glad to hear that Mastercard and Visa will cease all operations in Russia with immediate effect,” Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) said on Twitter after meeting Zelensky.

Earlier this week, Visa and Mastercard banned selected Russian banks from their networks in response to financial sanctions imposed on the country by the US. “This decision stems from our recent move to block multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network, as required by regulators worldwide,” said Mastercard.

The US and the European Union blocked some Russian banks from the main global financial system SWIFT after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month. Sanctions have also barred Apple Pay and Google Pay from some Russian consumers, with PayPal suspending operations in the country early this morning. A number of other major companies, including Samsung, Microsoft, Apple and Google, have all stopped doing business with Russia.

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