BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/18

At the start of the week, president Putin signed legislative amendments, whereby wages paid from government budgets and many social benefits like pensions must be paid to accounts linked to Mir payment cards (or no card whatsoever or a cash disbursement). The change goes into effect in full on July 1, 2018, but includes a longer transition for pension payments. Under the amendments, all banks must be able to accommodate Mir charge cards in e.g. their automatic tellers, and all businesses with net sales of more than 40 million rubles (about €650,000) must accept Mir cards.

The project to create a national payments system with payment cards was given a boost in spring 2014 after international sanctions were imposed on some Russian banks. The first Mir cards were introduced at the end of 2015. The CBR is currently the sole owner of the company administering the national payments system and Mir cards. The law specifies that the CBR must maintain a majority stake in the company. Over 70 Russian banks now issue Mir cards, and over 5 million Mir cards have already been issued. The use of Mir cards outside Russia remains limited. Currently Russian banks issue co-badging cards only with two foreign systems (Maestro and JCB), but Mir has announced it has reached deals with American Express and UnionPay, and is in talks with other majors such as Visa and Mastercard.