Visa, MasterCard suspend services to Russian banks

Visa and MasterCard have blocked a number of Russian financial institutions from their payment networks.

The move is in compliance with US sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine last week, Sky News reports.

“We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve,” said Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach in a statement on Monday.

Together, MasterCard and Visa handle 90% of all debit and credit card payments outside of China. Russia has been building an alternative payment network, known as Mir, but its market share in Russia is only around 30%.

Over the weekend, the international community moved to cut off a number of Russian banks from the main international payment system.

Swift — the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — is a secure messaging system that makes fast, cross-border payments possible, enabling international trade.

The assets of Russia’s central bank will also be frozen, limiting Russia’s ability to access its overseas reserves, according to BBC News.

These measures were agreed by the US, UK, European Union and Canada.