Apple suspends service for Russia’s Mir cards

March 28, 2022

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In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Apple Inc decided to limit the use of Apple Pay in Russia. Somehow Russians were still able to access the service through the Mir card. Not anymore, because Apple Pay is suspending its support for Mir cards. This closes the loophole that allowed Russians to continue using the Apple Pay service despite the economic sanctions put on the country. 

Around 32% of the new cards issued in Russia were Mir cards, according to the Statistics from the Central Bank. Mir is Russia’s version of Visa and MasterCard and is run by the National Payment Card System, which is known as NSPK, based on its Russian initials. Amid financial sanctions in Russia, Mir remained connected to the digital wallet until the removal of access on Thursday. 

In a translated Mir announcement, the company said that Apple informed NSPK that payment service in Apple Pay through Mir cards would be suspended. The uploading of new cards in the service has been unavailable since March 24. Further, Mir cards uploaded earlier since Apple Pay started supporting Mir cards last year will not be working for the “next few days.” Clients of Russian lenders issuing Mir cards were also notified that Apple Pay would cease support for their Mir cards.   

March 1, Apple had already announced a cease of product sales and a limit on Apple Pay and other services in Russia. 

Similarly, Google Pay’s pilot plan to allow Mir card users to connect to the digital wallet had been paused. This plan to link Mir to Google pay had been reported last October in a Russian newspaper, Izvestia. 

Prior to this, many Russians had already been cut off from using Apple Pay and Google Pay when multiple countries imposed financial sanctions on the country’s major banks. Visa and MasterCard also suspended their operations in the country, thereby barring Russian users from making international online payments using these credit or debit cards. These cards continue to support transactions within the country because the NSPK system is processing them.

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