Visa and Mastercard are suspending operations in Russia in another major blow to the country’s financial system, according to a report from the Associated Press.
In an announcement on Visa’s website, the company says it’s working with partners in Russia to “cease all transactions over the coming days.” A separate press release from Mastercard contains a similar message, noting that it’s suspending services in Russia and that its decision wasn’t taken “lightly.” Both companies explain that any transactions made with Mastercard or Visa cards issued by banks in Russia won’t work outside of Russia, while any cards issued by banks outside of the country won’t work at Russian merchants or ATMs.
“We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia,” Visa CEO Al Kelly states. “This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”
As noted by Bloomberg, anyone with a card issued in Russia will still be able to pay for products and services with Mastercard and Visa cards, however, neither financial company will process the transactions — Russia’s National Payment Card System (NSPK) will have to handle them instead.
Visa and Mastercard’s announcement comes shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US lawmakers and asked that they halt both companies’ operations in Russia. “Pleased to hear that Mastercard and Visa will be suspending all their operations in Russia effective immediately,” Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) said on Twitter following the meeting with Zelensky.
Earlier this week, Visa and Mastercard barred select Russian banks from their networks in response to financial sanctions the US imposed on the country. “This decision flows from our recent action to block multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network, as required by regulators globally,” Mastercard says.
The US and European Union blocked some Russian banks from the key global financial system SWIFT following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month. Sanctions have also ruled out Apple Pay and Google Pay for some Russian consumers, with PayPal ceasing its 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.