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Russia devises own SWIFT system

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia says it has devised an alternative to SWIFT global interbank money transfer service.

Russia says it has devised an alternative to a global electronic money transfer mechanism which the United States has shown it would readily use to disrupt overseas financial transactions of countries which it sanctions for political disputes.

Elvira Nabiullina, the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, was quoted by media as saying that Moscow was ready to use a substitute should the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) stopped processing cross-border money transfers for the country’s banks.

"There were threats that we can be disconnected from SWIFT. We have finished working on our own payment system, and if something happens, all operations in SWIFT format will work inside the country. We have created an alternative," Nabiullina was quoted by the website of state television network Russia Today as saying at a recent meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

The announcement followed earlier reports by the media in Moscow that 330 Russian banks had been connected to the SWIFT alternative, the system for transfer of financial messages (SPFS). in its report highlighted  the importance of SPFS specifically given that in 2014 and 2015, when the crisis in relations between Russia and the West were at their peak over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, some Western politicians urged disconnecting Russia from SWIFT.

The report further quoted a statement by the Central Bank of Russia as saying that the SPFS had been established “as an alternative channel for interbank cooperation with the aim of ensuring the guaranteed and uninterrupted provision of services for the transmission of electronic messages on financial transactions.”

Elsewhere in her remarks, Nabiullina further emphasized that a similar replacement mechanism for American credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard had also been devised. 

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