US payments firms Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine and said that they would work with their clients and partners to cease all transactions in the country.
Within days, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued within Russia will no longer work outside of the country and any Visa cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work within the country, the company said.
“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” Al Kelly, chief executive officer of Visa, said in a statement.
“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.”
Mastercard said its cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by Mastercard networks, and any of the company’s cards issued outside of Russia will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.
Mastercard said it decided to suspend its network services in Russia following its recent action to block multiple Russian financial institutions from the company’s payment network, as required by regulators globally.
Visa also said this week it blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from its network in compliance with government sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sberbank said in a statement on its official Telegram account that the cards “can be used for operations in the Russian territory — to withdraw cash, make transfers using the card number, and for payment offline as well as at online Russian stores.”
The cards would continue to work on Russian territory, it said, because all payments in Russia are made through a national system and do not depend on foreign systems.
However, the central bank warned that Russians travelling abroad should carry alternate means of payment. Mastercard added that it would continue to provide pay and benefits to its nearly 200 employees in Russia.