Mir (payment system)

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MIR
МИР
Company typePJSC
IndustryFinancial services
Founded2015; 9 years ago (2015)
Headquarters11A Bolshaya Tatarskaya str., ,
Area served
Russia
Accepted in:
ProductsDebit cards, Credit cards, payment systems
Brands
  • Mir Pay
  • Mir Secure
ParentPJSC NSPK (100% owned by the Central Bank of Russia)
Websitemironline.ru
privetmir.ru

Mir (Russian: Мир, IPA: [ˈmʲir]; lit.'the world' or 'peace') is a Russian card payment system for electronic fund transfers established by the Central Bank of Russia under a law adopted on 1 May 2017.[1] The system was developed by Belgian digital payments company OpenWay and is operated by the Russian National Card Payment System, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Russia.[2] Mir does not itself issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers; rather, Mir provides financial institutions with Mir-branded payment products that they then use to offer credit, debit, or other programs to their customers. The development and implementation of Mir was spurred by the imposition of international sanctions against Russia in 2014[3] to circumnavigate the reliance on the likes of Visa and Mastercard, which were blocked in Russia at the time. Mir created its own digital wallet for contactless payments.

History[edit]

Mir, as an idea, was born out of a series of joint initiatives between the Central Bank of Russia and the World Bank in the mid-2000s that aimed to create a framework of an autonomous payment processing system inside the Russian Federation.[4] While development was nearing completion, the Global Financial Crisis put further activity on indefinite hold.

Mir cards were initially accepted mostly by Russia-based companies, such as Aeroflot and Russian Railways, but it gradually became popular among foreign companies with operations in Russia.[5] In April 2016, AliExpress became the first foreign company to accept Mir as a form of payment within the Russian Federation,[5] and McDonald's was the first U.S. company to accept it three months later.[3]

The system was developed by Belgian digital payments company OpenWay, which created a subsidiary in Russia called OpenWay Solutions, to meet Russian government requirements.[6][7][8]

On the basis of the initial groundwork, Mir as a system was formalized in 2014 as a way to overcome potential blocks of electronic payments, after several Russian banks were denied services by US-based Visa and MasterCard because of the sanctions regime against them.[9]

The first cards working on the Mir system were launched in December 2015.[10] Sberbank, Russia's leading bank, started issuing them in October 2016.[11] In July 2016, McDonald's became the first U.S. company to accept Mir for payment in the Russian Federation.[3] By the end of 2016, 1.76 million Mir cards had been issued by 64 banks;[12] five years later, by the end of December 2021, over 113.6 million cards were in circulation.[13] By the end of Q2 2023 More than 228.4 million Mir cards were issued. [14]

In 2020, 3.5 billion payments were issued using Mir, an increase of 75% over the previous year.[15] In March 2021, the payment system announced a ban on the replenishment of foreign electronic wallets, as it considered such operations as high-risk.[16]

2022 financial sanctions and their consequences[edit]

In March 2022, as a result of international sanctions during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Apple digital wallet services Apple Pay temporarily stopped supporting Mir cards.[17]

The 2022 exit of Visa and Mastercard from the Russian market resulted in significanly increased use of the Russian Mir payment system in Russia.[18] and beyond at a time when their combined penetration accounted for less than 70% of the Russian consumer credit card market.[19] Their cease of operations in Russia represented a 1.5 billion USD annual revenue loss to the two financial services giants.[20] The result was a sharp increase in the number of Mir cards issued. As of April 1, 2022, the number of Mir-compliant cards in circulation exceeded 125 million, an increase of 10.3% from the previous quarter.[21] That sudden and sharp increase in demand created temporary shortage of chips for MIR cards.[22] It is estimated that banks' demand for card chips is six times higher than production capacity of their only domestic manufacturer Mikron Group.[23]

In September 2022, the US Treasury Department threatened foreign banks with secondary sanctions for servicing Mir cards. The department said in a statement: “non-U.S. financial institutions that enter into new or expanded agreements with NSPK risk supporting Russia’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions through the expanded use of the MIR National Payment System outside the territory of Russia”.[24][25] In the following weeks, large banks in a number of countries began to refuse to service Russian cards. Among them were Turkish DenizBank and İşbank, Vietnamese BIDV, Kazakh Halyk Bank, Tajik Dushanbe City. In Uzbekistan, the acceptance of Mir cards was stopped "for technical reasons".[26]

The most serious problem for Russian citizens was the restrictions on servicing the Mir card in Turkey. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia. The governments of both countries are looking for a replacement for Mir. The Turkish authorities propose to use the Troy national payment system as an alternative.[27]

According to information released by the Bank Of Russia, more than 256 million Mir card were issued by the end of Q3 2023. They account for 52.5% of all domestic card transactions in Russia and 51.6% of debit and credit card issuance.[14] The number of Mir cards used in Russia is expected to increase further over the coming months and years as Mastercard and Visa branded cards are slowly phased out of circulation. [14]

The introduction of the Mir Payment card and SPFS (Russia's own financial plumbing) has shown that Russia no longer needs Visa or Mastercard to process domestic card payments. Mir has processed most domestic card payments in Russia since 2015, while the main role of foreign operators such as Visa and Mastercard was to run international transactions.[28] Russian banks have considered issuing debit and credit cards with China's UnionPay on them to replace Visa and Mastercard in the processing of international transactions as the Mir card is only accepted in a small number of foreign countries, UnionPay has a wider reach compared to Mir and is accepted in more than 180 countries worldwide. The result would be that Mir would continue to process domestic card payments and UnionPay would replace Visa and MasterCard in the processing of international transactions. [29]

It remains to be seen whether Visa and Mastercard will be allowed to return to the Russian market once the conflict ends. As Ola Oyetayo, the chief executive of payments platform Verto, said "Russian banks that have found themselves scrabbling may not give the US networks another chance: In the long term, they may say once bitten, twice shy — they may not switch back even if they become an option again".[30]

US sanctions 2024[edit]

On February 23, 2024, the United States Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions against the Mir card operator – NSPK. This decision has no consequences on the territory of Russia, but could potentially create problems with the use of cards in other countries.[31]

Operations[edit]

Russia[edit]

The MIR card was the key part of Russia’s strategy to build its own payment system. The country aimed to operate local payments and clearing operations independently from foreign companies such as MasterCard and Visa.[32]

The Mir card came into effect in 2015 and was initially slow to be adopted by Russian banks and consumers. In 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that established the obligation of banks to use only national payment instruments (SPFS/MIR) when carrying out transactions on the accounts of individuals receiving cash payments from the Russian Federation. The law basically meant that pensioners, civil servants, public sector employees, and persons receiving welfare payments had to be paid using Russia's own financial plumbing (SPFS/MIR).[1][33] The law forced banks to issue Mir cards and retail stores to accept them. By 2020 Mir had achieved a 30% share of the Russian payment card market and this increased further still after Visa and MasterCard took the decision to suspend operations in Russia following the 2022 Russian invasion of the Ukraine.[32][34][35]

The Russian central bank stated that by the end of Q3 2023, More than 256.0 million Mir cards had been issued and they accounted for 52.5% of all domestic card transactions in Russia and 51.6% of debit and credit card issuance. [14]

Since October 2022, monetary allowances for servicemen mobilized for the war with Ukraine have also been credited to Mir cards.[36]

Acceptance in other countries[edit]

As of 16 November 2023, MIR is accepted in ten countries and two partially-recognized territories outside Russia:

  1. Belarus
  2. Egypt (2022)
  3. Kazakhstan (2023)[37]
  4. Kyrgyzstan
  5. Tajikistan
  6. Venezuela (2022)
  7. Cuba (2022)
  8. Mongolia (2023)
  9. Vietnam at VRB machines. (joint Viet/Russian bank.[38]
  10. Abkhazia
  11. South Ossetia
  12. Iran

Countries where Mir was formerly used, but where use has been suspended since 20 September 2022 or earlier:[39][40][41]

  1. Armenia (2018)
  2. Turkey (2019–2022)
  3. Uzbekistan (2019–2022)

In Vietnam there is a Russian-Vietnamese bank called VRB that accepts MIR card.[38]

A number of banks in Vietnam already accept payment cards from the Russian Mir system.

Russian cards are accepted in Thailand in one of "the very large supermarket chains."[42]

MIR's list of friendly countries includes South Korea. Russians travel to Seoul in August 2023: hotels in Seoul are booked 7.5 times more often in August than last summer.[42][43]

The MIR cards can also be used in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 2019[44]

Before the Russian-Ukrainian War, Bulgaria and Thailand were expected to adopt MIR, according to Central Bank of Russia. Mir was also being tested in the United Kingdom and in South Korea. In March 2022, Iran was considering recognizing Mir to allow it to continue trading with Russia as due to sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, Russian banks were banned from the SWIFT system used globally.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

According to the TASS news agency, in the summer of 2022, four African countries and one Middle Eastern country considered launching Mir cards: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Syria.[51][52]

India[edit]

In 2023, India and Russia expressed interest in continuing dialogue on accepting RuPay Cards and Mir Cards within national payment infrastructures.[53]

Cuba[edit]

In April 2022, Cuba made the decision to allow Mir cards. Juan Carlos Escalona, tourism advisor to Cuba's embassy in Moscow, indicated that visitors from Russia will be able to pay for services in Cuba with Mir cards once flights resume between both countries.[54]

On 26 July 2022, ATMs in Cuba began to accept Russia's Mir payment cards, Juan Carlos Escalona, adviser to the embassy of the republic on tourism, told the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR).[55][56]

In December 2023, the Mir card began to be officially accepted at POS terminals.[57]

Sri Lanka[edit]

In May 2022, Sri Lankan ambassador to Russia Janita Abeivikrema Liyanage said that Sri Lankan authorities are working to ensure that the Mir cards are among the cards that can be used upon arrival in their country. “This issue has been resolved. This year it will work".[58] However in October, the Central bank of Sri Lanka noted that approving Mir in Sri Lanka was impossible due to US sanctions.[59] Instead Sri Lankan and Russian banks signed an agreement which allows Russian tourists to remit money to Sri Lankan banks before arrival by direct transfers between Russian and Sri Lankan banks.[60]

Iran[edit]

On 27 July 2022, Iran will soon start accepting payments made with Russia's Mir bank cards, a top official was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying.[61]

Mongolia[edit]

Banks in Mongolia will soon be able to accept Russian cards from the Mir payment system. 80% of the work has been done. 16 February 2023, TASS.[62]

Thailand[edit]

Thailand is interested in accepting Mir card payments due to the visa-free stay for Russians in the country being extended to 90 days, [63]

Myanmar[edit]

Myanmar to introduce Russia’s Mir payment cards from February 2024[64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Путин подписал закон об обязательном переводе бюджетников на карты "Мир"". Interfax.ru (in Russian). 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  2. ^ "The Bank of Russia issues warning over Mir payment cards". Russia Beyond The Headlines. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Ogurtsova, Yevgeniya (11 July 2016). "McDonald's first U.S. business to accept Russia's new Mir payment card". United Press International. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022.
  4. ^ Financial Sector Assessment Program, Russian Federation: Technical Note, Financial Inclusion Jennifer Chien, Mai Nguyen, Matthias Timm, and Marco Traversa. The World Bank. July 2016. Accessed 27 February 2022. Archived.
  5. ^ a b "AliExpress First Foreign Company to Accept Russia's Mir Payment Cards". The Moscow Times. 27 April 2016. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Russia's Mir payment cards to give Visa and MasterCard a run for their money".
  7. ^ "OpenWay: The Belgian company that saved Russia's financial system".
  8. ^ "Її вихід з ринку РФ може "покласти" всю банківську систему. Як OpenWay допомагає країні-агресору".
  9. ^ "McDonald's first U.S. business to accept Russia's new Mir payment card". UPI. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Seven Russian banks start issuing first cards of Mir payment system". www.thepaypers.com. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Sberbank launches servicing of Mir payment cards". Russia Beyond The Headlines. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. ^ "About 20 mln Mir cards may be issued next year in Russia". TASS (in Russian). Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  13. ^ "mir website". 5 April 2022.
  14. ^ a b c d "National Payment System | Bank of Russia". www.cbr.ru. Retrieved 2023-10-24.
  15. ^ "mir website press release".
  16. ^ ""Мир" запретит пополнять со своих карт иностранные электронные кошельки" (in Russian). banki.ru. 2021-03-01.
  17. ^ Osipovich, Alexander; Andriotis, AnnaMaria (25 March 2022). "Apple, Google Cut Ties to Russia's Mir Payment Cards". The Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ "Visa and Mastercard suspend Russian operations". BBC. 6 March 2022.
  19. ^ "How U.S.-Russia tensions could hurt Visa, Mastercard". American Banker. 10 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Mastercard, Visa and PayPal miss out on combined $2.4 billion in revenue due to Russia-Ukraine conflict, says GlobalData". GlobalData.
  21. ^ "Количество выданных карт "Мир" выросло с начала года на 10%". Mir (payment system) (in Russian).
  22. ^ "There is a shortage of chips for MIR cards in Russia".
  23. ^ "Потребность банков в картах в 6 раз превысила объем производства "Микрона"" (in Russian).
  24. ^ "Минфин США пригрозил санкциями тем, кто помогает использовать карты "Мир" за пределами России". meduza.io (in Russian). 2022-09-15.
  25. ^ "RUSSIAN HARMFUL FOREIGN ACTIVITIES SANCTIONS". home.treasury.gov. 2022-09-15.
  26. ^ "Турецкие мотивы: банки Вьетнама и Казахстана приостановили прием карт "Мир"". iz.ru (in Russian). 2022-09-21.
  27. ^ "MİR yaptırımını fırsata çevirelim". aydinlik.com.tr (in Turkish). 2022-10-05.
  28. ^ Makortoff, Kalyeena; correspondent, Kalyeena Makortoff Banking (2022-03-06). "Mastercard and Visa block in Russia does not stop domestic purchases". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-11-15.
  29. ^ "Russian banks may issue cards with China's UnionPay as Visa, Mastercard cut links". Reuters. 2022-03-07. Retrieved 2023-11-15.
  30. ^ Venkataramakrishnan, Siddharth; Ivanova, Polina; Moise, Imani (2022-04-20). "Russia reaps reward of domestic payment system after Visa and Mastercard withdraw". Financial Times. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  31. ^ "On Second Anniversary of Russia's Further Invasion of Ukraine and Following the Death of Aleksey Navalny, Treasury Sanctions Hundreds of Targets in Russia and Globally". United States Department of the Treasury. 2024-02-23.
  32. ^ a b "National bank card MIR soon accepted ubiquitously in Russia in spite of security and financial challenges". East-West Digital News. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Top Russian Banks Lobby Against Forced Use of Kremlin's Mir Payment Card". Moscow Times. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  34. ^ Колебакина, Дмитрий Катаргин, Елена. ""Карта "Мир" – это такая советская ситуация, когда "счастье" навязывается сверху..."". БИЗНЕС Online (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-08-22.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ "Банки объяснили причины высокой стоимости национальной платежной карты". РБК. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  36. ^ "Мобилизованные будут получать денежное довольствие на карту "Мир"". banki.ru (in Russian). 2022-10-05.
  37. ^ "Kazakhstan's VTB Bank Starts Issuing Russian MIR Credit/Debit Cards". 25 December 2022.
  38. ^ a b "List of ATM and POS that accepts Mir card". VRB bank. 20 August 2023.
  39. ^ "Russian media: Armenia, Vietnam and Kazakhstan suspend use of Russian Mir cards". September 21, 2022.
  40. ^ "Turkish banks suspend Russian Mir cards amid US sanctions pressure". Financial Times. 19 September 2022.
  41. ^ @FiratKozok (September 27, 2022). "Fırat Kozok on Twitter: "EXCLUSIVE.. TURKISH STATE LENDERS TO EXIT RUSSIA'S MIR SYSTEM: OFFICIAL"" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  42. ^ a b "Several banks in Vietnam began accepting Mir cards - Kommersant". Russia's News. 20 August 2023.
  43. ^ "Russian tourists rushed to unexpected foreign places in August: demand jumped significantly". TripTimes. 20 August 2023.
  44. ^ Russia enforces MIR card adoption in new countries
  45. ^ "Карта "Мир" сблизила Южную Осетию с остальным миром". AlaniaInform (in Russian). Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  46. ^ "Russia, Iran discuss recognition of Mir cards, bypassing SWIFT".
  47. ^ "Russia, Iran consider adopting financial payment system beyond SWIFT". 25 March 2022.
  48. ^ "İş Bank first Turkish bank to accept Russian payment system MIR". Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  49. ^ "UZCARD and MIR agreed on issuing Co-badged cards". Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  50. ^ "Карты платёжной системы Мир стали принимать в ОАЭ" (in Russian). Интерфакс. 2021-10-05.
  51. ^ "Страны Африки изучают варианты запуска на своей территории платежной системы "Мир"" (in Russian). TASS. 2022-08-19.
  52. ^ "Syria views connection to Mir payment system as important — Ambassador" (in Russian). TASS. 4 July 2022. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  53. ^ "India- Russia Joint Statement following the visit of the President of the Russian Federation". mint. 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  54. ^ "Cuban Regime Will Allow Use of MIR Cards, the Russian Alternative to Visa and MasterCard". 23 April 2022.
  55. ^ "ATMs in Cuba begin to accept Mir payment system cards". Interfax. 26 July 2022.
  56. ^ "Cuba starts accepting Russia's Mir payment cards — ATOR". 26 July 2022.
  57. ^ "Оплату картами «Мир» официально запустили на Кубе". Banki.ru (in Russian). 2023-12-05.
  58. ^ "Popular resort among Russians will start accepting Mir cards" (in Russian). 5 May 2022.
  59. ^ "CBSL NO for MIR Payment for the moment". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 14 October 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  60. ^ "Boost for Russian tourist inflow via banking". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  61. ^ "Iran to start accepting Russian Mir payment cards soon -official". Reuters. 27 July 2022.
  62. ^ "Mongolian banks will soon be ready to accept Russian Mir cards — official". TASS. 16 February 2023.
  63. ^ "Thailand interested in accepting Russian Mir cards". tass.com. Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  64. ^ "Myanmar to introduce Russia's Mir payment cards from February". TASS. Retrieved 2024-01-27.

External links[edit]

Media related to MIR (credit cards) at Wikimedia Commons