UnionPay expands Russian penetration through MKB and DOM.FR

Monday 1 August 2022 15:01 CET | News

Credit Bank of Moscow - MKB and Bank DOM.FR have announced that they are preparing to issue UnionPay cards starting with Q1 2023.

Credit Bank of Moscow (MKB) and DOM.FR, two Russian banks, have announced that they are preparing to issue UnionPay cards starting with Q1 2023.

DOM.RF plans to start issuing UnionPay cards that will be co-branded the existing Russian Mir card. Additionally, Russia’s Industrial & Commercial Bank (ICB) is considering the possibility of issuing cards through the China’s UnionPay system as well.

According to, other Russian banks, including Absolut Bank, Rosbank, Ak Bars, and Home Credit also disclosed plans to issue cards via UnionPay, even though the time scale of this process has not been yet announced.

Evolution of Mir card penetration in the backdrop of European sanctions

Russia’s Novikombank has stated that UnionPay’s global distribution should not be overestimated, and it is not considered a total replacement for Visa and Mastercard, according to information from Russia-briefing. 

Novikombank is one of the seven major Russian banks (among Bank Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank, Vnesheconombank, and VTB Bank) that the EU excluded in march 2022 from The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a secure messaging system for banks, which facilitates rapid cross-border payments.

At the moment 11 Russian banks officially issue UnionPay cards, comprising of Russian Standard, MTS Bank, Gazprombank, RSHB, Solidarity, Bank Saint Petersburg, Primsotsbank, RRDB, Primorye, Zenit, Post Bank, while numerous other banks are undergoing approval procedures with UnionPay.

UnionPay's market penetration in Russia

UnionPay acts as an association for China’s banking card industry, operating under the approval of the People’s Bank of China. It is also an electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) network, and the only interbank network in China that links all the automatic teller machine (ATMs) of all banks throughout the country. UnionPay cards can be used in 180 countries and regions around the world.

According to a recent Reuters analysis, over 55 million merchants globally accept UnionPay cards as of March 2021. Acceptance coverage is 95% in Russia where over 1.6 million point-of-sale terminals support UnionPay QuickPass payment technology, according to UnionPay statements cited by Reuters. The same sources indicate that more than 4 million UnionPay cards have been issued in Russia starting with 2021. In July 2021, The Central Bank of Russia released a statistical bulletin informing that the number of issued bank cards in Russia in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 12 million.

The high usage of UnionPay can be explained through the fact that Russian banks have looked for a card issuing alternative in the aftermath of the financial sanctions issued by the EU after the Russian-Ukranian war started. Moreover, Following the decision of Visa and Mastercard in early March 2022, followed by Chinese UnionCard, to back away from its territory, Russia has pushed the adoption of the homemade MIR cards, according to EWDN.

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Keywords: credit card, expansion, Issuer, financial sanctions, card scheme
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Credit Bank of Moscow - MKB, UnionPay
Countries: Russian Federation
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Credit Bank of Moscow - MKB



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