Visa and Mastercard begin blocking Russian transactions
Payment system companies Visa and Mastercard have announced the beginning of the blocking of certain Russian activities in their payment networks to comply with international sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine. The rivals have shown their solidarity with the victims of the conflict and have announced that they will take measures to prevent transactions from penalized individuals and institutions, including blocking bank movements through the SWIFT system and from accounts of the Russian oligarchs.
Mastercard was the first to take action last night: “As a result of the sanction orders, we have blocked several financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network. We will continue to work with regulators in the coming days to fully meet our compliance obligations as they evolve." Visa followed up on Tuesday morning and assured in a statement that they are taking "immediate steps to ensure compliance with the applicable sanctions" and any additional sanctions that may be implemented.
The European Union is discussing the exclusion of seven Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, including the giants VTB Bank and Bank Rossiya, along with smaller banks such as Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank PJSC, Sovcombank and VEB.RF, some accused to finance the incursion into Ukraine. It should be clarified that the 27 have already retaliated against the main Russian banks, however, at the moment it is not known if they will include Sberbank, Russia's largest lender, in the list of possible excluded from SWIFT.
Mastercard is also committed to ensuring the security of unsanctioned customer transactions from potential cyberattacks: "Of the many roles we play, one of the most important is ensuring the security of the global payments ecosystem and our own network. Our teams Cyber and Intelligence and Corporate Security are working with governments and partners around the world to ensure the stability, integrity and resiliency of our systems, which function normally We are committed to active monitoring and rapid response to cyber attacks, whose threat increases significantly in the current environment".
Both companies have detailed that they will donate funds to support those affected by the conflict. In the case of Mastercard, the contribution will be $2 million to the Red Cross, Save the Children and an employee assistance fund for humanitarian aid. For its part, Visa will provide a $2 million grant to the US Fund for UNICEF to support humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine. Visa has also assured that it will double all employee donations to UNICEF and Red Cross Ukraine response funds.
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