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Visa Says Russia Requirements for Deposit Are Still Unacceptable

Visa Inc. said Russia hasn’t done enough to ease new rules requiring payment-system operators to make a deposit that would be at risk if services are interrupted.

Russia introduced the deposit measure after Visa and MasterCard Inc. stopped servicing cards issued by some banks targeted in U.S. economic sanctions earlier this year. The central bank’s decision to delay the deposits to October is a “positive” step, though it doesn’t go far enough, Visa’s press office in Russia said today in an e-mailed statement.

“As we have stated consistently since the national payment system amendments became law, the guarantee deposit is unworkable and goes beyond what we are willing to do,” the company said. “Visa is actively engaged with the Russian government to find a mutually satisfactory modification to the national payment system law.”

The warning calls into question an agreement reached in St. Petersburg in May as Russia agreed to water down the measures that could require the companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to stay active in the country. Visa and MasterCard have said they get about 2 percent of their annual revenue from Russia, or about $167 million last year for MasterCard and $236 million for Visa.

“While the government’s action is a positive near-term step, it does not provide the certainty related to the guarantee deposit provisions that Visa requires in order to continue offering our services over the long term,” according to the statement.

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