The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has launched a domestic SWIFT-style payment service to decrease dependence on Western financial services. “The new service will allow credit institutions to transmit messages in a SWIFT format through CBR to all Russia’s regions without restrictions,” said Ramilya Kanafina, the deputy head of the National Payment System Department at the CBR. Earlier in November, Kanafina had said the bank was creating its own system for transmitting financial messages, adding that it would go operational in a few months. On Friday, she said, “The system is already operating, and will be fully functional within six months.”
Russia has been hit with a series of sanctions by the US and the European Union (EU), which have accused Moscow of playing a role in the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine, a claim Russia has repeatedly rejected. Russia has been witnessing a decline in the value of its currency, ruble, which is going through its worst crisis since 1998 due to the Western bans and dropping oil prices.
There has been talk of blocking Russian banks from using SWIFT among some EU members as well. SWIFT, which stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has, however, insisted that it is not going to block Russian banks from using its services. SWIFT is a global banking transaction system used by most international banks. It securely carries information, including payment instructions, between financial institutions in 210 countries.