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Some Russian bank customers have been cut off from Apple Pay and Google Pay

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Financial sanctions are preventing some Russians from using either service

A customer uses pays for their order using Apple Pay at a Square Register at Mateo’s on Thursday, October 25, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif.
Financial sanctions from several countries bar some card payments through Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Photo By Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Customers at a number of banks in Russia can no longer use their bank cards with Google Pay and Apple Pay due to newly-imposed financial sanctions on the country, as reported by Insider. According to a press release from Russia’s Central Bank, affected financial institutions include VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, and Otkritie FC Bank.

While customers can still use bank cards from these institutions within Russia, they’ll no longer work abroad or when making online payments to stores and services belonging to countries that issued sanctions on Russia. This also includes card payments through Apple Pay and Google Pay, although the Central Bank says contactless payments will still be available with the bank cards themselves, given that they support it.

Google and Apple didn’t immediately reply to The Verge’s request for comment.

Several countries have imposed financial sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. According to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, sanctions issued by the European Union target 70 percent of Russia’s banking network. The US has put sanctions on Sberbank and VTB Bank, two of Russia’s biggest financial institutions, while the UK froze the assets of five Russian banks.

According to statistics recorded in 2020, Russia’s most popular online payment service was the Russia-owned Sberbank Online, followed by YooMoney (formerly Yandex Money) and QIWI, two other Russian payment service providers. At the time, 29 percent of Russians reported using Google Pay, while 20 percent used Apple Pay — this doesn’t account for their popularity as forms of contactless mobile payments, however.

Additionally, the US and Europe have blocked some Russian banks from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), the financial system used to communicate transactions across the globe, and are also moving to directly impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Correction February 27th 8:00AM ET: A previous version of the story stated that Sberbank Online and YooMoney are the two most popular mobile payment services in Russia, when they are actually the two most popular online payment services in Russia. We regret the error.

Update February 27th 8:00AM ET: Updated to add that some Russian banks are now blocked from SWIFT.