Russia looks to link new Mir credit card with China’s Unionpay, says Moiseev

Russia is getting close to signing a deal that would link its new Mir credit card system with China’s Unionpay national electronic payment network as Western sanctions prompt Russia to explore deeper financial links with China, its Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev told the Financial Times during a trip to Beijing over the weekend. Unionpay claims to be accepted in 141 countries and the link-up would ease the way for international acceptance of the “Mir” credit card that Russia plans to issue  said Mr Moiseev.
“Clearly we would like our national plastic card system to be as internationally accepted as possible,” he said. The move is  just one of a series of new measures aimed at integrating Chinese and Russian financial markets  as part of  Russia’s efforts to reduce its reliance on the west.
“The motivation has increased significantly,” Mr Moiseev said.  “We are [being] driven by outside [events] to develop bilateral financial links.”
Moscow first raised the possibility of developing its own national credit payment system some years ago, but the idea took on a new momentum when Western sanctions imposed on Russia  following its annexation of Crimea in 2014 interrupted the processing of some payment transactions. More
The Central Bank of Russia plans to promote the new Mir card to the country’s estimated 14 million public-sector employees over the course of the current year before launching it as a globally accepted means of payment,  a goal that the link-up with Unionpay would help it to realise.
Despite the growing popularity of non-cash payments, Russians still prefer to use cards to withdraw money from ATMs, according to a central bank study. More than 64% of Russians had at least one bank card in 2014.

Source: FT