Apple Pay closes a loophole to end support for the Russian payment service, Mir
The Russian payment card system called Mir will no longer be hosted on Apple Pay, adding to the existing restrictions against Russian economic activity enacted via Apple’s contactless payment service.
The Mir suspension took effect on on March 24, according to an announcement on Mir’s website. Apple also alerted Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK).
According to The Verge, the translated announcement states that uploading new Mir cards to Apple Pay is no longer possible, and any Mir cards added prior to the suspension should stop working over the next few days.
Apple Pay has been available in Russia since 2016, and Mir has been on the service since last year. But as of March 1, 2022, Apple had taken several measures to limit economic activity in Russia on its platforms in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Previous measures included restricting access to Russian MasterCard and Visa holders.
This latest Mir suspension removes Russia’s own internal payment system from Apple’s platform, making it so both international and domestic purchases in Russia cannot be made using Apple Pay. Before suspending Mir, Russian Apple Pay users had a loophole that allowed them to still access the contactless payment system so long as they were making their purchases via Mir.
Apple isn’t the only tech company restricting Russian economic activity via its platforms. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is also pausing a pilot program that allowed Mir cards on Google Pay. Russian Google Pay users also cannot access MasterCard or Visa, as the U.S.-based card networks have pulled out of the country entirely.
Notably, though, the lack of contactless card access via Google Pay is not a direct action from Google or its parent company, Alphabet. Because Visa and MasterCard suspended their own services in Russia more broadly, Google hasn’t taken responsibility for suspensions, and hasn’t itself addressed the pause of the pilot program that Mir was using.
“Google Pay is pausing payments-related services in Russia as a result of payment services disruption out of our control,” a Google spokeswoman told the WSJ.
Russian contactless payment users on both Apple Pay and Google Pay have also been affected by restrictions from other international banks, a list that Russia’s Central Bank has said includes VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, and Otkritie FC Bank. These restrictions mostly affect any purchases made via Apple Pay or Google Pay by Russians while abroad, or online to stores based in countries that have taken financial sanctions against Russia (h/t The Verge).