Russia could relax rules for Visa and Mastercard -source

ST PETERSBURG, Russia Thu May 22, 2014 5:32am EDT

ST PETERSBURG, Russia May 22 (Reuters) - Russia is considering relaxing new rules imposed on foreign credit and debit card companies Visa and Mastercard after they stopped serving several Russian banks because of U.S. sanctions, a source close to the central bank said on Thursday.

Russia's parliament passed a law in April to 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 from July 1.

Both Visa and Mastercard - the world's two largest credit and debit card companies - had protested against the new rules, saying they would create significant complications for their business in Russia.

"The problem of reaching an agreement (on the security deposit) will be handed over to the central bank or government," the source told journalists on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum when asked if the rules would be relaxed.

"Visa said it has taken the decision not to pay a cent," the source added.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov later told journalists he would meet representatives from Visa and Mastercard on Friday.

The new rules form part of a package of measures aimed at stimulating the creation of a Russian national payment system to reduce reliance on Western companies and provide a reserve to fall back on if tougher sanctions are imposed over Russia's handling of the Ukraine crisis. (Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by David Goodman)