Russian online retailer accuses Visa, Mastercard of putting illegal pressure on Russian banks

Russian online retailer accuses Visa, Mastercard of putting illegal pressure on Russian banks

Wildberries has slammed foreign payment systems for putting illegal pressure on Russian banks after the firms threatened the online retailer with fines for alleged additional commissions on payments made via Visa and Mastercard.

Wildberries, Russia’s second-largest e-commerce company, announced this week it would provide a discount to its customers when shopping with cards, working with Russia’s payment system MIR, as well as when using Bank of Russia’s interbank Fast Payment System (FPS) or Sberbank's SberPay.

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Following the news, Russian acquiring banks started receiving letters from Visa and Mastercard, threatening them with penalties for alleged surcharging of transactions made through the payment systems, Wildberries said in a statement.

We have received a complaint stating that Wildberries is adding a surcharge to the transaction if a Visa card is used to pay the merchant. As you know, if your merchant is adding a surcharge for using a Visa card this is a compliance violation of the Surcharges requirements under Visa Core Rules and Visa Product and Service Rules, Surcharges," Visa said in one of the letters, as cited by TASS. The company requested this alleged violation to be investigated by August 31 and warned of a $25,000 fine that will “escalate monthly, until this matter is resolved.” When asked for an official comment, Visa Inc.’s press service in Russia told TASS it did not disclose information on the relationship with customers and partners.

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Mastercard’s press service was more cooperative, telling TASS it was in a “working dialogue” with partner banks about the situation with Wildberries.

We are in a normal working dialogue with partners, we act in accordance with our rules and procedures,” it stated.

Wildberries claims that no additional commissions were introduced, as the tariffs are formed by the payment systems themselves. Russian payment systems have lower tariff rates, while the international ones reach 2% when operating in Russia. The retailer noted that outside Russia the size of Visa and Mastercard commission is much lower.

We regard these incidents as attempts to put pressure on domestic financial organizations, to restrict their independent work,” the retailer stated.

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