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Visa and MasterCard to stay in Russia

May 23, 2014, 12:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Visa and MasterCard intend to create a Russian national payment operator within a year and a half

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MasterCard Russia Director General Ilya Ryabiy

MasterCard Russia Director General Ilya Ryabiy

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Bobylev

ST. PETERSBURG, May 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Visa and MasterCard will continue operating in Russia, the companies’ representatives told journalists at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2014 on Friday.

“We are ready to work in Russia,” said CEO for Visa Russia Andrew Torre and MasterCard Russia Director General Ilya Ryabiy.

Visa and MasterCard to create Russian national payment system

Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov stated upon the results of talks with Visa and MasterCard representatives that these international payment systems intend to create a Russian national payment operator within a year and a half.

“They have submitted a proposal to the government to work on establishing relations with Russian payment systems during 6 months in order to create a Russian company in a year or a year and a half,” the minister specified.

Siluanov stressed that the issue of setting up a Russia-based operator by Visa and MasterCard would take time. “Until this moment, they are ready to work with the existing payment systems,” the minister emphasized.

He added that the Russian government has listened to the proposals of the international payment systems and is ready for cooperation. “We will report to the country’s leadership and find a solution suiting both MasterCard and Visa and the Russian operator in the nearest time,” Siluanov said.

According to Andrew Torre, the meeting with Russian officials was very fruitful. “We have explained our concerns over the law and we are ready to continue cooperating with the Russian government,” Visa Russia CEO stated.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov held talks with officials from international payment systems Visa and MasterCard at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

New collateral deposits requirements excessive – VTB CEO

The newly introduced requirements for collateral deposits are excessive and Visa and MasterCard should continue their business in Russia, VTB CEO Andrei Kostin said on Friday.

“They [Visa and MasterCard] should stay and work here and we should not be overwhelmed with patriotism,” Kostin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The head of VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest lender by assets, said the new requirements for the international payment operators to place large amounts of money into collateral deposits with the Russian Central Bank were excessive.

“I believe the law adopted by the Duma [the lower house of Russia’s parliament] is excessive and creates problems both for the government and the Central Bank as they have to agree on what to do so that Visa and Master can stay in Russia,” Kostin said.

Kostin said that the national payment card system being created in Russia could start its operations already by the end of this year but would be hardly efficient at the start.

“We should not delude ourselves. This system will not allow us to service our citizens’ payments outside our country, at least in the course of several years.”

Amendments to the law

Earlier it was reported that the Russian Central Bank on Wednesday received amendments to the law on the National Payment System. The amendments are designed to exclude from the law’s text the formulas of collateral deposits, as well as penalties for the payment systems’ refusal to work with any Russian credit organizations, a source reported.

The source said that all the parties were expressing their readiness for a compromise to allow Visa and MasterCard to continue their work in Russia.

Visa and MasterCard chiefs stated on Monday they were negotiating changes to the legislation with Russian authorities. This requires Visa and MasterCard to place collateral deposits into special accounts with Russia's Central Bank. These equal the value of two-day transactions in Russia, Russian business daily Kommersant reported last week, quoting a limited-access report by US investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The legislation was passed after Visa and MasterCard said they would block card operations by Rossiya and SMP banks blacklisted by the US administration as institutions with key shareholders close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sanctions were intended to influence Putin’s policy on Ukraine.

Based on total daily volume of $1.6 billion in cash and non-cash card payments in Russia, Morgan Stanley estimated MasterCard being obliged to deposit $1 billion and Visa as much as $1.9 billion with the bank. This compared with net earnings of their Russian units of $160 million and $350-470 million, respectively, the report’s author said.

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