Payments companies Wise, Remitly suspend money transfer businesses in Russia

Wise logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed detail of the same logo
FILE PHOTO; Wise logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed detail of the same logo in this illustration taken June 18, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Cross-border payments company Wise and remittance processor Remitly have suspended their money transfer services in Russia, following new sanctions over the weekend against the country in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for London-based Wise said it will continue to monitor the situation and “keep these measures under constant review.”

Wise, a financial technology company previously known as TransferWise, holds balances in countries on popular currency routes to sidestep high fees traditionally associated with international money transfers.

Last week, Wise limited daily transfers to Russia to 200 British pounds ($268.34). A company spokesperson had said that the limits were put in place at the time “to make sure we can offer our service to as many people as possible.”

On Saturday, the United States and its allies announced they would take action against Russia's central bank and bar some of the country's banks from the SWIFT international payments system, in a move that experts saw as a significant escalation of the West's sanctions against Moscow. read more

A spokesperson said Wise had suspended all money transfers to Russia as a result of those new restrictions. A separate spokesperson for Remitly confirmed that Remitly had also stopped supporting money transfers to Russia due to the new sanctions.

Wise has also capped transfers to Ukraine, citing increasing difficulties operating its service in the country.

It added in a blog post that it plans to remove that cap as soon as it can, and said it had waived fees on more than 500,000 pounds of personal transfers to Ukraine “to help customers who may have emergency needs.”

Russia has called its actions in Ukraine a "special operation."

($1 = 0.7453 pound)

Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Hannah Lang covers financial technology and cryptocurrency, including the businesses that drive the industry and policy developments that govern the sector. Hannah previously worked at American Banker where she covered bank regulation and the Federal Reserve. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park and lives in Washington, DC.