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Apple and Google close loophole that allowed Russians to use Mir cards for mobile payments

They no longer work with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
A photo taken on March 14, 2022, shows the logos of Visa, Mastercard and Russian Mir payment systems on bank cards in Moscow. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
- via Getty Images
Igor Bonifacic
Igor Bonifacic|@igorbonifacic|March 27, 2022 3:14 PM

Apple has closed a loophole that had allowed some Russians to continue using its mobile payments service despite the ongoing economic sanctions against Russia. According to Reuters, the company told the country's largest lender on Thursday it would no longer support Russia's homegrown Mir payments system through Apple Pay.

"Apple has informed NSPK it is suspending support for Mir cards in the Apple Pay payment service," the National Card Payment System said Friday. "Starting from March 24th, users cannot add new Mir cards to the service. Apple will stop all operations of previously added cards over the next few days."

Google took similar action last week as well. According to a separate report from The Wall Street Journal, the company paused a pilot that had allowed Russians to connect their Mir cards to Google Pay. "Google Pay is pausing payments-related services in Russia as a result of payment services disruption out of our control," a Google spokesperson told the outlet.

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As The Verge notes, the Central Bank of Russia established Mir after the US and other countries imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea in 2014. According to statistics shared by the Central Bank, Mir cards are involved in more than 25 percent of all card transactions within the country. Previously, cards from major Russian financial institutions like VTB Group and Sovcombank stopped working with Apple Pay and Google Pay shortly after the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

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Apple and Google close loophole that allowed Russians to use Mir cards for mobile payments