MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will find a substitute to Visa and MasterCard if those card payment systems refuse to work in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“There would be a replacement. Visa and MasterCard are already concerned that they will lose the market,” Lavrov said during an English-language interview with Bloomberg.
According to Bloomberg, Visa’s profits fell five percent in April after it was forced to join in the US sanctions regime against Russia. It said the effort could further cripple its gains this year.
“It’s all virtual money, it’s all virtual transactions, and anything which is virtual can be replicates especially now that in Russia and in other countries there are many experts who know how this works,” Lavrov said.
The Russian foreign policy chief warned the West against using its banking reputation as a bargaining chip in the ongoing standoff with Russia over Ukraine.
“But my point is that if the West, just for the sake of revenge, is ready to sacrifice its reputation as a reliable partner for the entire world economy and for the entire world financial system, if the US is prepared to sacrifice its reputation as the holder of the key reserve currency, then … the entire world will think differently,” he said.
Lavrov stressed that, far from the desired effect, US sanctions would only reinforce Russia’s resolve to bring about change in Ukraine. “We will be even more persistent in demanding a free and fair reform in Ukraine,” the minister said.
As a reaction to Crimea reunifying with Russia in mid-March, the US introduced targeted sanctions against Russian officials and Rossiya Bank, considered by the US Treasury to be a private bank for many Russian government officials.
Following the move, international payment giants Visa and MasterCard stopped client operations for cardholders at Rossiya Bank, SMP Bank, as well as their subsidiaries Sobinbank and Investkapitalbank with no prior notice, causing a serious drop in the consumer confidence of the banks.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that talking in the language of sanctions is “inappropriate and counterproductive” and warned Western officials about the “boomerang effect” that sanctions would have.