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Russia Turns to Chinese Banks for Help as Visa, Mastercard Leave Country

Visa and Mastercard on Saturday joined the growing list of companies suspending its operations in Russia over the invasion.
Cards that are combining Mir network and the UnionPay system will allow users to make payments and cash withdrawals abroad. Above, an illustration of the Visa logo. PHOTO BY MATT CARDY/GETTY IMAGES
Cards that are combining Mir network and the UnionPay system will allow users to make payments and cash withdrawals abroad. Above, an illustration of the Visa logo. PHOTO BY MATT CARDY/GETTY IMAGES

The Russian Central Bank announced on Sunday that some of the country’s banks plan to issue cards using UnionPay, a Chinese card operating system with Russia’s Mir payment system, after Visa and Mastercard suspended its operations in the country over its invasion of Ukraine.

Credit cards issued by Russian banks using Visa and Mastercard payment systems will also stop functioning overseas after March 9, according to Reuters.

UnionPay is a Chinese system that is enabled in 180 countries and specializes in providing cross-border payment services. In using UnionPay as an alternative, Russia’s Mir Network, a payment system for electronic fund transfers and is sponsored by the Russian government, will partner with the Chinese system to issue co-badged cards.

Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, said that it is “studying the possibility of issuing co-badged cards [called] Mir-UnionPay” and that they will announce the launch date of those cards “at a later time,” Russian news agency TASS reported.

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