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For Visa, MasterCard cheaper to quit Russia than to stay — Morgan Stanley

May 15, 2014, 15:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Costs for MasterCard and Visa to keep their operations in Russia are also reported far higher than the financial results of their Russian business
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© AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Recent amendments to Russian legislation will cost Visa and MasterCard at least $1 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, to keep their business in Russia compared with exit costs of $160 million and $350-470 million, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Thursday, citing a limited-access survey by US investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The survey, “The Russian Bear: Impacts on V and MA,” prepared for Morgan Stanley subscribers on May 6, evaluated consequences of stricter controls on international payment operators. These are to neutralise risks for Russian banks if card operations are blocked by international systems through sanctions imposed by western countries over Russian policy on Ukraine.

Amendments required Visa and MasterCard to place security deposits into special accounts with Russia's Central Bank equal to the value of their two-day transactions in Russia, Kommersant quotes the report as saying.

Based on total daily turnover of $1.6 billion in cash and cashless card payments in Russia, it goes on, Morgan Stanley estimated MasterCard being obliged to deposit $1 billion and Visa as much as $1.9 billion with the bank.

Security deposits represented the primary and most obvious costs that MasterCard and Visa faced to continue operations in Russia, said the analysts' quoted findings.

“Payment systems will also have to build processing centres in Russia and pay penalties of up to 10% of the security deposits with the Russian Central Bank in the event of their unilateral refusal to provide services,” the study is said to reveal.

Costs for MasterCard and Visa to keep their operations in Russia are also reported far higher than the financial results of their Russian business. The share of their Russian divisions in total revenues equalled 3-4% for Visa and 2% for MasterCard, the report said.

Based on these estimates and also financial statements by MasterCard and Visa, net earnings of their Russian units represented $160 million and $350-470 million, respectively.

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