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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. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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