Several Russian banks, facing a suspension of payment services from Visa and Mastercard, will join up with the rival Chinese system, UnionPay, the country’s central bank revealed on Sunday.
With services provided by the U.S. multinationals ceasing across Russia on March 9, the country’s banks will begin issuing cards using UnionPay’s card operator system, which will be joined by Russia’s own Mir network.
Russian-issued Mastercard and Visa cards will continue to work in Russia until their expiry, but will no longer work abroad.
The move to UnionPay was announced on Sunday by Sberbank, Russia’s largest creditor, and MKB and Tinkoff, Russia’s subsidiary of Alfa Bank, Raiffeissen Bank.
Roszszelhozbank, Pocsta Bank, Gazprombank, Sankt-Petyerburg Bank, Promsvyazbank, VBRD, Primszocbank, Zenit, and Sovkombank have used the system so far.
UnionPay is an international payment system established by China in 2002 which became international in 2005. It can be used to pay in 180 countries around the world, including Hungary, Poland, Germany, Italy, and Austria.