9sberbankRussia is considering launching its own payment system in response Visa and Mastercard’s recent blocking of the bank card operations of several US-sanctioned Russian banks. Russian officials are debating whether to base it on Sberbank’s PRO100 or to cooperate with the Chinese UniPAY. It should be noted that these sanctions were essentially that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Back in 1998, when the Russian economy was in dire straits, it didn’t take long for both Visa and Mastercard to block all transactions carried out on cards issued by Russian banks. Both companies also stubbornly refused repeated requests by the Russian authorities to create a processing center in Russia, so that their bank card transactions could be processed locally. The proposal to create an alternative to the capricious Western credit powerhouses has now been debated by the Russian government for several years and these financial sanctions might just have provided the right incentive to make that dream come true. More