Visa, Mastercard Replaced By MIR In Crimean Peninsula

Visa and Mastercard have been replaced on Russia‘s Crimean peninsula, as its largest bank has completed the process of switching all credit cards to Russia’s MIR payment system. According to a report in RT, citing the Crimean bank, the process was completed on Tuesday (Aug. 14.)

“On August 14, the process of replacing Visa and Mastercard plastic cards in favor 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.

GenBank’s ATMs will still accept Visa and Mastercard cards that are issued by other banks outside of Crimea, noted the report. The report noted that GenBank was the only financial institution in Crimea that issued cards of foreign payment companies.

MIR, the payment system the Central Bank of Russia created in 2015, is accepted by Russian companies but is also gaining acceptance among international companies that have operations in the country, noted RT. Russia launched MIR after the U.S. and U.S. allies placed sanctions on the country, ordering the creation of the national payment system due to worries that it could be shut out of international payment systems.

The move comes as Russia’s corporate treasurers are working with the nation’s central bank on a blockchain initiative, as CoinDesk reported in June. The Russian Association of Corporate Treasurers is joining the government-led Masterchain blockchain initiative, a platform developed by the central bank to facilitate communications within Russia’s banking market. Russia is reportedly looking to use the platform to replace SWIFT’s inter-bank communications network.

Russia’s FinTech association and 14 of the nation’s largest banks collaborated on the development of Masterchain, reports noted, citing a white paper. The initiative eventually hopes to join banks and government agencies that collaborate on contract registration and regulation.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.