The new bank cards, from one of China’s major card schemes, will enable Russians to conduct business abroad, Russia Briefing said, and will be co-branded by UnionPay and Mir, Russia’s Central Bank owned electronic payment system.
UnionPay cards were primarily intended for Chinese tourism, said Expert RA analyst Evgeny Romanov in a Banks report, but Russians can also use the cards in other countries, although demand will depend on the cost.
China Moves Into Russian Banking
Eleven other major Russian banks, including Gazprombank, RSHB, Bank Saint Petersburg and Zenit, have already made the switch to China’s Union Pay, Russia Briefing said, with the likes of Absolut Bank, Rosbank, Ak Bars and Home Credit expressing plans to do the same.
However, business with Russian banks will remain controlled and limited, Romanov noted, due to China’s fear of sanctions by the US.
Union Pay could gain a 5-8% share of Russia’s card payment economy, Russia’s Novikombank told Russia Briefing, as long as Visa and MasterCard do not lift their bans in the near future.
- By Alfie Habershon