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Russia can cope with possible disconnection from Western payment systems - expert

The use of Mir payments system abroad can be limited under the sanctions regime, he said

MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. Russia’s disconnection from Western payment systems can be painful, but the country will manage how to cope with such sanctions at the national level by fully switching to the national payment system Mir, Chairman of the Association of Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market Participants Viktor Dostov told TASS.

However, the use of Mir payments system abroad can be limited under the sanctions regime, he noted.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he does not rule out the risk of Russia’s disconnection from Western payment systems, given the unfriendly attitude towards the country from a number of states. According to him, the best way to hedge all risks is to create systems that can compensate for the lack of a particular service and various formats of financial support.

"If we are disconnected from Visa and MasterCard, then, under this scenario, roughly speaking, all payments within Russia go to the Mir card. This is a rather painful process, but within Russia it will be possible to adjust [to this situation]. It is clear that we will not be able to travel abroad with the Mir card, because, most likely, it will not be accepted there under the sanctions regime," Dostov said. He noted that the problem of local payments will be solved, but international payments will be significantly limited in one way or another.

The expert mentioned several main segments of the payment industry where international payment systems are actively used. Firstly, this is the card segment - Visa, MasterCard and other foreign payment systems. Secondly, international transfers, for example, Western Union, while SWIFT is the basic infrastructure for international interbank transfers.

"Disconnection from any of them implies problems of various degrees. But, in my opinion, this can only happen as a last resort, as "doomsday" sanctions. Before this happens, there will be some other chains of sanctions, because such payment sanctions are already very tough measures from the point of view of Russia and for the world community they are unprecedented," he added.

Commenting on the possibility of disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, Dostov noted that at the regional level it could be replaced by the Financial Message Transfer System (FMS) developed by the Bank of Russia.

"If SWIFT is disabled for us, then all transfers abroad or from abroad become impossible. This cannot be compensated, because this is an agreement in which many parties participate. We may try to compensate for this by agreements with individual countries. For example, the CIS now has an autonomous financial messaging system developed by the Bank of Russia. In general, it replaces SWIFT regionally,"the expert said.