Apple Pay closes loophole to end support for Russian payment service Mir
The Russian payment card system called Mir will no longer be hosted on Apple Pay, adding to existing restrictions against Russian economic activity enacted through Apple’s contactless payment service.
Mir’s suspension took effect on March 24, according to an announcement on Mir’s website. Apple also alerted the Russian National Card Payment System (NSPK).
According to The edge, the translated announcement states that downloading new Mir cards to Apple Pay is no longer possible, and all Mir cards added before the suspension are expected to stop working over the next few days.
Apple Pay has been available in Russia since 2016 and Mir is part of the service since last year. But as of March 1, 2022, Apple had taken several steps to limit economic activity in Russia on its platforms in response to the Russian attack on Ukraine. Previous measures included restricting access to Russian MasterCard and Visa cardholders.
This latest Mir suspension removes Russia’s own internal payment system from Apple’s platform, preventing international and domestic purchases in Russia from using Apple Pay. Prior to suspending Mir, Russian Apple Pay users had a flaw that allowed them access to the contactless payment system as long as they made purchases through Mir.
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Apple isn’t the only tech company restricting Russian economic activity through its platforms. According to the wall street journal, Google is also suspending a pilot program that allowed Mir cards on Google Pay. Russian Google Pay users also cannot access MasterCard or Visa, as US-based card networks have fully removed from the country.
Notably, however, the lack of access to contactless cards through Google Pay is not a direct action of Google or its parent company, Alphabet. Since Visa and MasterCard have suspended their own services more broadly in Russia, Google has not taken responsibility for the suspensions and has not itself addressed the pause in the pilot program used by Mir.
“Google Pay is suspending payment-related services in Russia due to an outage of payment services beyond our control,” a Google spokeswoman said. WSJ.
Russian contactless payment users on Apple Pay and Google Pay have also been hit by restrictions from other international banks, a list that Central Bank of Russia said includes VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank and Otkritie FC Bank. These restrictions mainly affect all purchases made via Apple Pay or Google Pay by Russians abroad, or online from stores based in countries that have imposed financial sanctions against Russia (h/t The edge).