Russia's banking system has SWIFT alternative ready

Russia's banking system has SWIFT alternative ready
If the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is shut down in Russia, the country’s banking system will not crash, according to Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina. Russia has a substitute.

"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 said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

She also added that 90 percent of ATMs in Russia are ready to accept the Mir payment system, a domestic version of Visa and MasterCard.

Izvestia daily reported that as of January 2016, 330 Russian banks had been connected to the SWIFT alternative, the system for transfer of financial messages (SPFS).

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.

In November 2015, Nabiullina said the SPFS was close to being completed.

The central bank’s website says the system was 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.”

At present, the system has some drawbacks. It doesn’t work from 9pm to 5am Moscow time and costs up to five cents per wire transfer, which is regarded expensive.