Visa, MasterCard to Stay in Russia as Government Softens Stance

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Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. said they'll keep working in Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s government agreed to consider easing demands that were made on the payment systems after the U.S. imposed sanctions.

Visa and MasterCard executives met with senior officials including First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and came away "very positive" about resolving the problems facing the companies, Visa's country chief, Andrew Torre, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum today.

Russia will consider easing new measures requiring Visa and MasterCard to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to continue operating in the country, MasterCard Russia chief Ilya Riaby said. At stake is about $638 million in combined annual revenue for the two payments networks as well as their foothold in a market that’s shifting from cash to electronic payments.

After Visa and MasterCard stopped processing payments at four Russian banks in response to U.S. sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine, Russia passed a law creating its own national payment system and imposing rules for foreign firms that include fines for denying services and a mandatory security deposit starting in July.

“We are looking at various contingency plans,” Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. The government is committed to working with Visa and MasterCard, he said.

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