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Bill Gives Visa, MasterCard Reprieve Until Oct. 31

Published: June 26, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Visa and MasterCard together process about 90 percent of payments in Russia.
    Photo: Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

International payment systems Visa and MasterCard could get a reprieve until Oct. 31 on a security deposit of up to $2.9 billion that the Russian government has demanded they pay if they are to continue operating in Russia.

According to a draft bill by the Finance Ministry published Wednesday on the government's legislation portal, payment systems operating in Russia can be freed from the obligation to pay a security deposit until Nov. 1 this year on one condition. To receive the exemption, the companies will need to stop providing information about money transfers carried out in Russia to clearing centers abroad.

The Federation Council on Wednesday approved a bill giving the government the right to set the details for Visa and MasterCard's payment of the security deposit, Vedomosti reported.

Visa and MasterCard, who together process about 90 percent of payments in Russia, fell victim to international tensions in March after they cut services to two Russian banks in order to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

President Vladimir Putin soon after called for the creation of a national payment system to cut Russia's dependence on companies subject to the political policies of foreign governments. Signed into law in early May, the legislation also requires international payment systems to submit a massive security deposit to Russia's Central Bank in order to continue operating in Russia.

The deposit, estimated by Morgan Stanley at $2.9 billion, is five times more than Visa and MasterCard's joint annual revenues in Russia a country that accounts for less than 4 percent of the companies' global revenues and analysts suggested that the two companies might be better off simply leaving the market altogether. Under the law, the payment systems would also have to build processing centers in Russia and pay fines of up to 10 percent of the funds held by the Central Bank in the event of a unilateral denial of services.

The State Duma last week began discussing amendments to soften the law, and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said that the deposit payments will be "substantially reduced."

MasterCard meanwhile said that it was looking for a Russian partner to process payments within the country, which could help the company sidestep the law. Visa, however, said that the requirement to pay the massive security deposit is "unworkable," Reuters reported.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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