Russian card payments halted as KPMG and PwC shut branches

By Raffaele Redi

More and more corporates are closing or suspending their services in Russia

“Out of service” sign                                 
Three card payment giants have suspended all operations in the Russian Federation – Photo: Shutterstock

Netflix, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and American Express have all announced that they are cutting ties with Russia as the war in Ukraine rages, while the Ukrainian vice-prime minister has asked Google and Amazon to halt their services to Russia.

As retailers and tech giants such as Ikea, Nike, Microsoft, Apple and most recently Netflix suspended sales in Russia, other major firms – after warnings from rating agencies of a high risk of default for the Russian economy – followed hard on their heels and shuttered their Russian branches.

KPMG, the global network of professional firms, and its London-based peer PwC have both decided to stop their Russian services.

KPMG said it has “over 4,500 people in Russia and Belarus, and will end a working relationship with them as a consequence of the actions of the Russian government”, while PwC is leaving 3,700 Russians jobless.

Visa, MasterCard and Amex suspend card payments

Meanwhile, following in the footsteps of rivals Visa and Mastercard, the financial giant American Express has stopped all operations in the Russian Federation.

“As a result, globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia. Additionally, cards issued locally in Russia by Russian banks will no longer work outside of the country on the American Express global network,” said American Express chair and CEO Stephen J Squeri.

“We are also suspending all business operations in Belarus. This is in addition to the previous steps we have taken, which include halting our relationships with banks in Russia impacted by the US and international government sanctions,” Squeri said.

Ukraine, Google and Amazon

On the Ukrainian side of the front, vice-president Mykhailo Fedorov asked for Apple and Google stores on smartphones and iPhones to be closed to Russian users, while he also wrote to Microsoft, asking the company to block access to Azure, Skype and GitHub from Russia.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk said that the Starlink communications system, which uses a network of SpaceX satellites, is being left open to the Russian community to preserve “freedom of speech,” claiming that Starlink is now the only non-Russian communications network that is currently functioning in Ukraine.

Musk also conceded, however, that this decision leaves Starlink vulnerable to attack, and said the service should be used with caution.

Some of the companies that have suspended their services to Russia in support of Ukraine are nonetheless leaving ongoing licenses open, for legal reasons.

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