Armenian Banks to Halt Russian Mir Card Transactions

Armenian banks are scheduled to cease processing payments with Russian Mir cards from March 29 2024, following U.S. sanctions on Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK) imposed in February 2023.

The Mir system became Russia’s alternative to major international payment systems after Visa, Mastercard, and American Express suspended their services in Russia in March 2022. After this suspension, Mir became widely adopted by Russian tourists and expats in Armenia.

While the Central Bank of Armenia asserts that its decision to stop using Mir cards was made independently, the U.S. Treasury has issued warnings that transactions with Mir could be seen as supporting Russian interests, which may lead to secondary sanctions.

At the implementation date, 17 out of 18 Armenian commercial banks will cease operations with Mir cards through the domestic payment system, ArCa, effective from March 30. On their end, the Armenian subsidiary of Russia’s VTB bank will maintain the use of Mir cards, leveraging its network of 53 branches and over 190 ATMs.