Mastercard and Visa block Russian financial institutions

Global payment giants Mastercard and Visa have blocked a number of financial institutions from their payment networks.

Michael Miebach, chief executive of Mastercard, said that it had carried out the move to abide by sanction orders. He said that the company is continuing to work with regulators to observe compliance obligations as they evolve over the coming days.

Yesterday the UK government announced new measures targeting the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

It said the new measures will prevent Russia’s central bank from “deploying its foreign reserves in ways that undermine the impact of sanctions” and “undercut its ability to engage in foreign exchange transactions to support the Russian rouble”.

"Given the unfolding emergency, we are also working with our partners to direct funding and humanitarian aid where it can provide the greatest impact," wrote Mastercard's chief exec in a statement. "Today, we announced a $2 million contribution to the Red Cross, Save the Children and our employee assistance fund for humanitarian relief.

"Our Cyber & Intelligence and Corporate Security teams are working with governments and partners around the world to ensure the stability, integrity and resiliency of our systems, which are operating as normal. We are committed to active monitoring and rapid response to cyber-attacks, the threat of which is heightened significantly in the present environment."

A Visa spokesperson said the company is taking "prompt action" to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding that it is prepared to comply with any additional sanctions that are implemented in future.

"To that end, Visa Foundation will provide a $2 million grant to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine," they added.

According to sources at Reuters, government sanctions force Visa to suspend access to entities identified as "Specially Designated Nationals".

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