Visa, Mastercard block Russian financial institutions after sanctions

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U.S. payment card firms Visa Inc  and Mastercard Inc  have blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their network, complying with government sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Visa said on Monday it was taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding that it will donate $2 million for humanitarian aid. Mastercard also promised to contribute $2 million.

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

In 2021, about 4% of Mastercard’s net revenues were derived from business conducted within, into and out of Russia. Meanwhile, business conducted within, into and out of Ukraine accounted for 2% of its net revenues, according to a filing on Tuesday.

The government sanctions require Visa to suspend access to its network for entities listed as Specially Designated Nationals, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The United States has added various Russian financial firms to the list, including the country’s central bank and second-largest lender VTB .

On Saturday, the U.S., Britain, Europe and Canada announced new sanctions on Russia – including blocking certain lenders’ access to the SWIFT international payment system. 

Russians rushed to ATMs and waited in long queues on Sunday and Monday amid concerns that bank cards may cease to function, or that banks would limit cash withdrawals. 

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Many Western banks, airlines and more have cut ties with Russia, calling the country’s actions unacceptable. European nations and Canada have shut their airspace to Russian aircraft. 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Kenneth Maxwell, Kirsten Donovan)

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