Iran will soon accept Russian payment system for international shoppers
Once Mir cards are accepted in Iran, tourists and visitors from Russia can shop in Iran without having to use cash
By News Desk - July 28 2022

Mir debit cards. (Photo credit: Andrei Nikerichev / Moskva News Agency)

A top Iranian official announced on 27 July that retailers throughout the Islamic Republic will soon be able to accept Russian Mir debit and credit cards through card payment machines at their point of sale.

The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy, Medhi Safari, was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency on the latest development of plans between Tehran and Moscow to facilitate the use of domestic debit and credit card payment systems by Russians and Iranians when shopping abroad.

“I think this payment system will soon be activated in Iran,” Safari stated to RIA.

Mir, which means both ‘world’ and ‘peace’ in the Russian language, is an alternative debit and credit card payment system launched in 2014 after US sanctions were imposed on Russia in the wake of votes by Crimean residents for re-unification with Russia.

The first cards were issued in December 2015, and the system is operated by a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Russia.

The cards are currently accepted in Cuba, South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, some of the former Soviet bloc countries, and by the Chinese online retail service, AliExpress.

Following the start of the war in Ukraine, Visa and Mastercard ceased operations in Russia, resulting in a $1.5 billion annual revenue loss.

Russian account holders moved quickly to get their Mir debit and credit cards, even though their US cards would continue to work until their expiration date.

Discussions between Iran and Russia on accepting each other’s domestic alternatives to Visa and Mastercard began in late May.

This latest announcement was made shortly after the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran on 19 July.

The day after his visit, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran announced a plan to implement a system to allow importers and exporters to settle payments under a currency pairing system involving multiple foreign currencies, including the Russian ruble.

This plan would lead to an alternative international wire transfer system similar to SWIFT, which has blocked all Iranian banks and state-owned Russian banks from using its services.

“Countries that want to de-dollarize their transactions must have a special system similar to SWIFT,” Safari further told RIA news agency.

The visit of Putin also coincided with the largest oil and gas investment in Iranian history, worth $40 billion.

Once Mir cards are accepted in Iran, foreign tourists and visitors from Russia, as well as from other countries that issue Mir cards, can go shopping in Iran without having to carry cash with them, reducing the risks of theft or accidental loss.

An analysis from The Cradle columnist Pepe Escobar highlighted how western sanctions against Russia are backfiring in the wake of Moscow’s various countermeasures, including the transformation of the Russian ruble into a resource-based reserve currency.

And, in an exclusive interview by Escobar for The Cradle with Sergey Glazyev, a former top economic adviser to the Kremlin, Escobar revealed how Russia is shaping a new global financial system as a result of the intense economic war waged against it.

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