Russia’s alternative to SWIFT is rapidly expanding

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Russia’s central bank has said that SPFS, Russia’s alternative to SWIFT international messaging system, has expanded at a record pace this year, and it intends to step up efforts to address financial shortcomings caused by the penalties imposed in response to Russia’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine.

Alla Bakina, director of the central bank’s national payment system department, said that 50 new institutions have joined the SPFS, bringing the total number to 440, of which more than 100 are non-resident, but she did not specify which institutions from which countries have joined the SPFS.

Bakina also explained that Mir cards now account for a third of all bank cards in Russia, making them Russia’s alternative to Visa and Mastercard, which have both ceased operations in Russia and the issuance of cards in Russia.

However, Mir’s international growth is being held back by the fact that banks in previously recognized countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Uzbekistan are no longer making transactions following the latest round of US sanctions and the inclusion of National Card Payments System (NSPK) head Vladimir Komlev on its sanctions list.

Although Cuba, South Korea and some former Soviet republics have allowed the use of Mir cards, Komlev explained that the NSPK has not published the list of countries where these cards are accepted.

The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.

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