NewsMost Armenian Banks to Suspend Russian Mir Card Services from March 2024

Most Armenian Banks to Suspend Russian Mir Card Services from March 2024

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan
Images source: © Getty Images | Sean Gallup
5:28 AM EDT, March 19, 2024
Most Armenian banks will cease servicing and accepting Russian Mir cards, with VTB Armenia, a Russian VTB subsidiary, being the notable exception, as announced by the bank.

In compliance with sanctions imposed on the Russian banking sector by Western countries, Armenia has decided that most of its banks will discontinue using Russian Mir cards starting from March 29, 2024. This decision comes after the Mir card operator faced U.S. sanctions in February.

However, VTB Armenia bank, as reported by Kommersant and confirmed by sources within the Russian payment market, will continue its cooperation with the Mir system.
"Starting March 29, cardholders will be unable to perform cashless transactions at POS terminals or withdraw money from ATMs belonging to other banks within the country. However, this will not impact the functionality of VTB (Armenia) cards," a representative from the Armenian branch of VTB informed the Russian news outlet RBC.
The spokesperson reaffirmed VTB Armenia's commitment to fully supporting Mir cards.
Russia had been preparing the Mir system for years, foreseeing the possibility of Western sanctions in response to escalations of aggression in Ukraine. Mir was designed to safeguard Russian transactions, particularly when major payment operators such as Visa and MasterCard adhered to sanctions.

Nevertheless, in 2022, more international banks began withdrawing from the Mir system. This started with Turkey's Isbank and was followed by banks in other countries like Kazakhstan (Halyk Bank), Vietnam (BIDV), and Armenia. In Armenia's case, the local central bank withdrew from the Mir system, allowing commercial banks to decide whether to participate. On this basis, VTB Armenia intended to continue facilitating payments through the Russian system.

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