The exit of Visa and Mastercard from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion means Russians with cards issued by them can no longer use them overseas. Now, it looks like Russia’s Mir alternative is also being targeted by the West.
- Mir cards can still be used in some countries where Russians frequently travel, including Turkey and Egypt. However, this week it emerged that several hotels in Turkey have stopped accepting payments via Mir. It is possible that this is due to pressure from the U.S. and the EU. Western governments have been ramping up pressure on Turkish banks to force them to refuse curtail operations of the Russian payment system, the Financial Times reported.
- At present, Mir’s operator, the National Payment Card System, is not under any restrictions. However, last week, its head, Vladimir Komlev, was targeted by sanctions. The U.S. authorities also cautioned financial organizations in third-party countries against expanding their cooperation with Mir.
- After the war began, many Russians opened accounts in Turkey and former Soviet countries as a way of obtaining Mastercard and Visa bank cards that they could use abroad. It’s likely that this will now get more difficult. Uzbekistan, for example, has tightened the rules by which non-residents can open bank accounts.
Why the world should care
If Russian tourists can no longer use Mir abroad, many will have no other option apart from to use cash in destinations like Egypt and Turkey.