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Apple Pay to stop service for Russian banks sanctioned for Ukraine war

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During the first day of Russia's incursion of Ukraine, Russians paid more than $1.3 billion from banks, the highest sum since the start of COVID-19.

Many Russian banks that have been sanctioned in line with Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine will no longer accept major payment services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The Bank of Russia announced on Friday that Russia's second-largest bank, VTB, and also other banks including Sovcombank, Otkritie, Novikombank, and Promsvyazbank, are now on the list of organizations sanctioned by the US.

Apple Pay and Google Pay will no longer be available to users of these banks' debit and credit cards, according to the central bank, however direct or contactless payment will remain accessible throughout Russia.

Customers will also be unable to use these cards to pay for goods and services sold online by nations that endorse the sanctions, according to the statement.

The Bank of Russia stated in a different statement on Friday that Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, is also one of the sanctioned banks. The restrictions target Sberbank's subsidiary accounts particularly.

Besides some Russian cards being banned from Apple Pay and Google Pay, several sanctioned Russian banks are also having difficulties with the Apple Store and Google Store because of their role in actions related to Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic.

On Wednesday, Apple purportedly disabled mobile applications from the App Store by the sanctioned Promsvyazbank, with a minimum of three apps being deleted. According to reports, Google also pulled the bank's major applications from its store.

Russians have started pulling money from their bank accounts in higher amounts, as some officials have cautioned that banks may seize retail balances if sanctions are imposed too severely. The highest flow ever since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak 2 years ago was reportedly 111.3 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) from Russian banks during the first day of Russia's incursion of Ukraine.

On Friday, several users online reported ATMs going empty and a huge crowd for cash withdrawal, indicating that the substantial bank outflows had seemingly persisted.

Though some on-chain data shows that Ukrainians have been rapidly shifting to crypto amid Russia's incursion, it can be hard to obtain up-to-date data on Russians' crypto exposure because the nation lacks legal platforms that record trading activity.

As per data, Russia's crypto trading volumes on significant peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins have been declining in recent months, declining roughly 100% from November 2021 to early February 2022.

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