Visa, Mastercard vow to stay as Russia softens tone on rules

Fri May 23, 2014 11:18am EDT
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By Darya Korsunskaya and Alexander Winning

ST PETERSBURG/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The world's two largest credit and debit card companies Visa Inc (V.N: Quote) and Mastercard Inc (MA.N: Quote) pledged on Friday to stay in Russia after officials showed a willingness to relax laws that hinder their operations in the country.

Russia's parliament in April introduced legislation demanding the credit companies make a hefty security deposit to the central bank, a response to sanctions imposed on Moscow over its involvement in Ukraine.

The Russian finance ministry, the central bank and local bankers have described the law as excessive and on Friday a meeting between government officials and the companies' executives produced promises that both companies will stay.

"We are willing to work in Russia and after this meeting we hope that a compromise solution will be found," Andrew Torre, director of Visa in Russia, told reporters on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Ilya Ryaby, general director of Mastercard in Russia, said his company would stay in Russia but that "the decision (on whether to relax the rules) depends first of all on the agreement of the president of the Russian Federation."

Amendments to the law, relaxing the requirements, will be prepared next week, Kremlin's top economic aide Andrei Belousov told Russian news agencies.

"We will introduce changes to the legislation, we're looking at different options now," Belousov was cited as saying.

The rules, set to come into force on July 1, oblige foreign card companies to pay a security deposit of 25 percent of their average daily turnover in Russia to the central bank once a quarter.   Continued...

MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this illustrative photograph taken in Hong Kong December 8, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip