Visa and Mastercard bank cards will no longer be valid abroad for the Russians, and these cards issued abroad will no longer work in Russia, as announced by the global payments companies on Saturday. In response, the Russian banks said on Sunday that they planned to issue cards using China’s UnionPay system to cater to the Visa and Mastercard suspension in Russia over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Major Russian lenders Sberbank and Alfa Bank are working on a rollout of UnionPay cards. “Sberbank is working on the possibility of issuing co-branded Mir-UnionPay cards. We will inform you later about the timeframe for the issue,” Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, put out in a statement.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest private lender Alfa Bank said it is “already working on launching cards on UnionPay, China’s national payment system”. Other banks like Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, and the Credit Bank of Moscow (MKB) are also working on releasing UnionPay cards, Russian news agencies said.
The Russian economy and in particular the financial sector are under the unprecedented burden of sanctions after Moscow marched off tens of thousands of soldiers into Ukraine to overthrow the Kyiv government.
The Russian Central Bank said that Visa and Mastercard cards that have already been issued by national banks will continue to work within Russia until they expire because all payments in Russia are made via a national system. However, it has warned that Russians travelling abroad would need to carry some alternate means of payment.