The trick is that most of the banks on the new sanctions list, including small regional ones, issued cards of the Chinese UnionPay payment system for Russians.
Under new US sanctions announced on February 24, another 11 Russian banks went under. Of these, only MKB is in the top 10 largest banks in terms of assets. The sanctions list even included Primorye Bank ranked 102 in terms of assets at the end of 2021 (bank statistics were not released in 2022) and Lanta-Bank ranked 110.
British sanctions were announced the same day against four more or less large banks (the second or third ten) on the “American” list – Uralsib, Zenit, MTS Bank and St. Petersburg – on the same day.
As experts have already explained, these sanctions are unlikely to have a major impact on the Russian economy as a whole. More than 80% of the Russian banking sector is already under sanctions. And somehow we live.
But they may well annoy some Russians. As in previous cases, mainly for those who want to pay by card and withdraw money from foreign ATMs.
The trick is that most of the banks on the new sanctions list, including small regional ones, issued cards of the Chinese UnionPay payment system for Russians. And now they send warnings to customers one after another – the fate of the cards in connection with sanctions is unknown, so if you are abroad, withdraw the required amount of cash for insurance.
Such messages have already been sent by Uralsib, MTS Bank, Zenit, St. Petersburg and Primorye.
Officially, the Chinese payment system – and we remember that our interest in it arose with a bang after Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB cards issued in Russia ceased to be accepted abroad – did not announce any adherence to sanctions against Russia. But in fact, since the beginning of autumn, it has limited work with Russian banks, which were already under sanctions. They can no longer issue new UnionPay cards. In addition, these cards, issued by foreign banks, stopped working within Russia at the terminals of the “subsanctioned” banks.
Information about the work abroad of UnionPay cards already issued by our banks that have fallen under someone else’s sanctions is very contradictory. Sometimes, as tourists say, even within the same country they are accepted somewhere, but somewhere not.
What are the alternatives? The list of countries where you can pay with cards of the Russian payment system “Mir” is clearer. However, it is small: Armenia, Abkhazia, Belarus, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and South Ossetia. At the same time, the representatives of the banks explain that this list is constantly changing, so it is better to clarify the information immediately before the trip.
Banks subject to new US sanctions: MKB, MTS-Bank, Uralsib, Lanta-Bank, Metallinvestbank, Levoberezhny, St. Petersburg, Primorye, SDM-Bank, Ural Bank for Reconstruction and Development (UBRD) , “Zenith”.
Banks subject to new British sanctions: Uralsib, Zenit, MTS Bank, St. Petersburg.