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SWIFT must be ‘killed off’ – top Russian banker

Digital banking will create sovereignty, VTB chief Andrey Kostin says

A move away from conducting financial transactions through Western payment systems, including SWIFT, is vital for Russia and its trading partners, the head of the country’s second-largest lender has said.

Speaking on Thursday at the Data Fusion 2024 conference, VTB CEO Andrey Kostin called for the promotion of digital financial settlements in Russia and allied nations. Such a step would end the dominance of the dollar and gain full sovereignty in the financial sector, he claimed.

“SWIFT has announced plans to carry out digital payments soon, but we need to kill SWIFT in our settlements, we need to completely get away from it and involve our partners in this as well,” the banking executive insisted, highlighting major work that is being done by the Bank of Russia to achieve the goal.

According to Kostin, VTB is currently working on a pilot project to bring the digital ruble into general use, including in cross-border payments.

The senior executive said he appreciated efforts by the Central Bank of Russia over the past decade to create an effective system of import phase-out in the financial sector.

READ MORE: Two more Russian allies stop accepting payment card

“At a time when many of our colleagues in the manufacturing sector were happy to use French engines in domestic aircraft or German gearboxes in cars, the Bank of Russia firmly took the line of creating an independent system,” he said, pointing to the Mir card, the Faster Payments System (SBP) and the country’s stock exchange infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Kostin admitted that the latest US sanctions had forced banks in several ‘friendly’ countries – Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan – to halt transactions with Russia and stop accepting Russia’s Mir payment cards. In February, the US Treasury updated its backlist of Russian individuals and entities, adding the operator of Russia’s Mir payment card system to it.


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