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Crimea abandons Visa and MasterCard

The Republic of Crimea’s largest bank, Genbank, has finished the procedure of replacing all plastic cards to Russia’s Mir payment system.

On August 14, the process of replacing Visa and MasterCard plastic cards in favour of the Mir payment system has ended. Visa and MasterCard plastic cards issued by Genbank, which have not been replaced, are not serviced since August 14,” the Crimean bank said.

Visa and MasterCard cards issued by foreign bank will still be accepted by Genbank ATMs. It was the only financial institution in Crimea to issue foreign operators’ cards.

The Mir Russian payment system was established by the Central Bank of Russia in 2015. It is accepted mostly by Russian companies, e.g. Aeroflot and Russian Railways, and is gradually gaining acceptance among foreign companies with Russian operations.

After the United States and its allies imposed sanctions in 2014, the Russian government ordered the establishment of a national payment system due to concerns the country would be cut off from international payment systems.

In 2014, both Visa and Mastercard announced they were withdrawing themselves from the Crimean Peninsula, as the region became the target of Western sanctions after integrating the Russian Federation. However, bank cards using the payment systems continued to operate in the Crimea long after Visa and MasterCard were obliged to move their Russian operations to servers in Russia.