MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government has endorsed a bill to establish a national card payment system and seek to add the ruble to a list of commonly used foreign exchange settlement currencies, the Russian Cabinet said Friday.
“When amending the draft law, it would be appropriate to make special provisions for including the ruble in the list of settlement currencies of the CLS payment system and allow foreign banks and foreign financial organizations … to participate directly in the Russian payment system,” the Cabinet said in a statement on its website.
Rumors have circulated in recent days the country’s new payment system will adopt the symbol of the ruble, a "P" with a horizontal stroke, the Cyrillic equivalent to the letter "R."
The decision was taken at a meeting attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, where it was agreed the new card payment system should be registered as a joint-stock company, with the Central Bank as the holder of its controlling interest.
The move came in a bid to diversify the country’s financial system away from US-based global powerhouses Visa and MasterCard, which froze payments of cards issued by Bank Rossiya, Russia’s 15th-largest bank, after it was hit by US sanctions following the Crimea dispute.
Bank Rossiya earlier said it would cease all foreign currency operations and work in rubles only in response to the US transactions ban, with US officials declaring the bank would be “frozen out of the dollar.”