Russia's Mir card payment system connects to Apple Pay

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with the Apple Pay logo is placed on a laptop in this illustration taken on July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s card payment system Mir, which was set up in 2015 after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow, is now connected to Apple Pay, the card issuer said on Tuesday.

More than 95 million Mir cards have been issued by Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK), accounting for about a third of Russia’s card market which was previously dominated by international payment systems Visa and Mastercard.

Mir has been part of Moscow’s efforts to develop homegrown financial tools to mirror Western ones, which still operate in Russia, to protect the country in case sanctions are broadened.

Apple Pay began operating in Russia in 2016 and now has more than 20 million users. The service is available to customers at eight banks, including major Russian lenders such as Sberbank, VTB and Tinkoff.

“A number of other banks are preparing to connect,” NSPK said in a statement to Reuters.

Apple did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Reporting by Tatiana Voronova; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Edmund Blair