News Article Important Information

Visa, Mastercard Suspend Operations in Russia

The companies’ decisions align with similar actions being taken by government and business leaders in a world-wide attempt to weaken Russia by applying extreme financial pressure.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. payment firms, Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. have each announced their decision to suspend operations in Russia. Both suspensions take effect on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. Moscow time. This means our members' BECU Mastercard debit cards and Visa credit cards will no longer work for ATM or merchant transactions in Russia.

Visa Inc. chairman and CEO, Al Kelly, said in the U.S. payment firm's announcement, “We are compelled to act following Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” and, “We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia. This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”

In the company's announcement, Mastercard called the recent events “shocking and devastating,” and said it was “the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment” that led to their decision to suspend network services in Russia.

What this means for Visa cardholders

Since Visa announced their decision on March 5, the company has been working with its partners and clients in Russia toward a smooth transition. Although operations will be suspended on March 10, additional time will be allowed for critical processes to wind down. When the suspension is in place, Visa cardholders can expect the following:  

  • Cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within Russia – including debit and credit cards issued by BECU. 
  • Transactions using Visa cards issued by Russian financial institutions will no longer work outside of Russia.  

Read more about Visa's decision in their recent announcement

What this means for Mastercard cardholders

Mastercard has worked with the Russian regulator to wind down activities in an orderly manner since their announcement on March 5. Although the suspension will be executed on March 10, the company holds the right to adjust timing if they feel it's right for Mastercard and their customers. When the suspension takes effect, cardholders can expect the following:

  • Cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the network whether used inside or outside of Russia.
  • Cards issued outside of Russia – including debit and credit cards issued by BECU – will not work at ATMs or with Russian merchants. 
  • Cards issued locally and used domestically in Russia will not be blocked. These cards are required to be processed over the NSPK switch, which is operated by the Central Bank of Russia.

Read more about Mastercard's decision in their recent announcement

Ongoing global security efforts

Both Visa and Mastercard reiterated their commitment to vigilance in safeguarding their networks against a wide range of potential fraud and cyber threats. Their cybersecurity and intelligence teams are working globally with governments, partners and clients to maintain the security, stability, integrity and availability of their networks and the entire payments ecosystem. Both payment firms remain in close communication with government agencies and industry partners as they prepare for the heightened risk of cyber threats during this time. 

BECU's intelligence partners have also warned us about more phishing and social engineering attempts as the crisis continues. Learn more in this BECU news article about cyber threats amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis