Russia and Belarus have finalized the pairing of their national payment systems, allowing them to bypass Western-dominated networks, according to the Belarusian Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Krutoy. In an interview with RIA Novosti on Monday, Krutoy stated that the two countries’ central banks have set an example for all industry regulators on how to work without much publicity while solving problems.
Krutoy emphasized that the sides have fully unified their currency legislation. The integration of the Belarusian national payment system Belkart with Russia’s Mir enables users to buy goods and pay for services in both Belarus and Russia, effectively replacing Visa and Mastercard. This move signifies a significant step towards reducing reliance on Western payment systems.
The ambassador also highlighted that the majority of financial settlements and trade between Russia and Belarus are currently conducted in national currencies, moving away from the US dollar. Furthermore, the use of other friendly currencies such as yuan and rupees is expanding, further reducing dependency on the Western-dominated financial system.
Russia’s development of its own national payment system began in 2014 when the country faced sanctions from the US and its allies. Mir cards were introduced into circulation in December 2015. The government promoted the domestic system as a reliable alternative when Russian banks were cut off from SWIFT, Visa, and Mastercard due to further sanctions in response to its military operation in Ukraine.
Russia’s SPFS interbank messaging system plays a crucial role in facilitating financial transactions between banks within and outside the country. The Russian Central Bank has confirmed that all Belarusian banks have now been connected to the system, further strengthening their financial integration.
Mir cards, issued by Russian banks, have gained acceptance in several countries, including Cuba, Armenia, and Belarus. Venezuelan banks recently announced that they would also start accepting Mir cards, with 15 other countries expressing interest in adopting the system on their soil.
The Belkart payment system was established in 1994 to ensure Belarus’s financial resilience from external impacts and promote cashless transfers within the country. Last year, several Belarusian banks faced disconnection from SWIFT as part of Western sanctions against the country.
The partnership between Russia and Belarus in their national payment systems signifies a significant step towards reducing reliance on Western-dominated networks. This shift aligns with both countries’ intentions to strengthen their economic and financial sovereignty. By working together to develop and integrate their payment systems, Russia and Belarus have shown that they can successfully overcome challenges and forge a more independent path in the global financial landscape.