Banks have been ordered to use the country’s domestic financial messaging systems for transactions
The Bank of Russia has forbidden Russian financial institutions to use the SWIFT messaging system for transactions inside the country, the regulator announced on Monday.
Starting from October, Russian banks will be obliged to only use domestic services for transferring messages on financial transactions. The use of SWIFT will be allowed only for international payments.
“This will ensure reliability, continuity and security of data exchange when conducting intra-Russian transactions,” the regulator said in a statement.
Information on such transactions will now need to be transmitted through the Bank of Russia’s own banking systems, services of third-party Russian companies, or through the Bank of Russia’s own financial messaging system, SPFS.
The SPFS was created by the regulator in 2018 as a substitute for SWIFT on the domestic market. While its coverage is still much smaller than that of SWIFT – which boasts 11,000 financial organizations globally – the spread of SPFS has been gaining momentum in recent months. In February, the Russian Central Bank announced that SPFS now has 469 participants, including 115 foreign entities from 14 nations.
Russia was forced to start seeking alternatives to SWIFT in dealing with foreign partners last year, after some of the country’s largest banks were disconnected from the system as part of Western sanctions.
At present, ten Russian banks are disconnected from SWIFT, including Sberbank, VTB, Otkrytie, Rosselkhozbank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya, Sovcombank, VEB.RF, and MKB. Banks which have not been disconnected but are under blocking sanctions from Western countries may also face difficulties using the system.
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