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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, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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