Mastercard, Visa and Amex block Russian cards, merchants from using their payment networks

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Mastercard, Visa and American Express have all taken steps to block their payment networks from being used in Russia.

The companies all said that cards issued or supported by Russian banks or issued in the country will stop working, while cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work within the country either.

In other words, Russian based cardholders won’t be able to use their cards to make purchases and cardholders around the globe won’t be able to make payments or purchases from any merchant location located in the country.

Each card network had slightly different timetables, but the restrictions mostly began rolling out over the weekend of March 5, 2022.

Mastercard, Visa and America Express do not issue credit cards directly, but rather run the digital infrastructure needed for cards to be accepted, verified and processed around the world.

Credit and debit cards with the Mastercard, Visa or America Express logo are instead issued by thousands of banks worldwide. This gives the banks the right to issue cards with the networks’ logos on them and access to the network itself so that consumers can use cards at merchants and the merchants get paid.

Mastercard, Visa and America Express make money by taking a cut of each transaction processed via their networks. The issuing banks often take a small percentage as well, which is typically passed along to the merchant.

Discover Card was not widely accepted in Russia even prior to the invasion, according to its website.

Meanwhile, Russia is quickly working to implement Chinese based UnionPay to work with its existing Mir network as a replacement for the other networks. This will require issuing new cards to consumers.

Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has sparked numerous similar unofficial sanctions by companies, who are typically able to decide where they sell their products and services.

Both physical retail and ecommerce stands to experience substantial interruption with the three major card networks halting operations in the country. Ecommerce could be hit further by new restrictions on shipping to the country as well as delays throughout Europe due to the crisis.