China’s UnionPay to follow US sanctions and block Russian banks

Russia planned to start issuing UnionPay cards after Visa and Mastercard disconnected its banking sector, rendering Russian-issued debit and credit cards useless outside the country.

UnionPay is unwilling to cooperate with a number of large Russian banks because of the risk of secondary sanctions, RBC learned. Sanctioned banks that issued such cards or planned to do so are forced to abandon projects.

An interlocutor close to Sberbank said that the bank’s employees were told about such a decision by the Chinese payment system at a closed meeting, so Sberbank will not issue these cards. On March 6, the credit institution reported that Sberbank is considering the possibility of issuing a co-badged card of Mir and UnionPay payment systems. The announcement came a month before Sberbank came under the US blocking sanctions.

Sberbank, VTB, Alfa-Bank, Sovcombank, Promsvyazbank and Otkritie are under the toughest US blocking sanctions. They are listed on the SDN list, which means that their assets associated with the US financial system are blocked, as well as the risk of secondary sanctions for cooperation with them.

Currently, UnionPay cards are issued by Rosselkhozbank, Gazprombank, Bank St. Petersburg, Solidarity, Zenit, Post Bank, Primsotsbank, Primorye, and Russian Standard. They are accepted in 180 countries.






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