Visa, Mastercard, AmEx and PayPal suspend Russia operations

Visa, Mastercard, American Express (AmEx), and PayPal have joined a growing list of companies cutting ties with Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Over the weekend, the four global payment networks announced that they would be shutting down all operations in the region.

AmEx chief executive Stephen J Squeri said that its globally issued cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia, while cards issued locally in Russia by Russian banks will no longer work outside of the country.

The company has also stopped business operations in Belarus.

Visa said that it is working with clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the next few days. This will mean that all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within the Russian Federation.

“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” said Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive of Visa. “We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia.

“This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”

Dan Shulman, president and chief executive of PayPal, said that it has been working closely with governments to comply with sanctions.

“Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia,” he said. “The PayPal community will remain steadfast in our humanitarian efforts to care for those in Ukraine who are experiencing devastating violence and tragic loss."

Mastercard announced that cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network regardless of where they’re used - inside or outside of Russia and any Mastercard issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.

But it added that all domestic transactions in Russia are mandated to be processed over a switch run by its central bank.

Once the suspension is completed the company will have nothing to do with these transactions, including any ability to block them, it said.

“We don’t take this decision lightly,” said the company in a statement. “Mastercard has operated in Russia for more than 25 years.

“We have nearly 200 colleagues there who make this company so critical to many stakeholders. As we take these steps, we will continue to focus on their safety and well-being, including continuing to provide pay and benefits. When it is appropriate, and if it is permissible under the law, we will use their passion and creativity to work to restore operations.”

However, Russia’s state payments network Mir pointed out on Sunday that Russian citizens would still be able to use their Visa and Mastercard cards for domestic payments.

“All cards of these payment systems already issued by Russian banks will continue to work within our country as before,” said the organisation in a statement, as reported by The Guardian. “Until the expiration of their validity, Visa and Mastercard cardholders have access to all the funds on their accounts, as well as all the usual payment transactions – paying for purchases, transferring funds from card to card, withdrawing cash, etc.”

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