ApplePay – Apple’s digital wallet service – is no longer providing support to Russian banks following sanctions from the United States and its western allies. Applications from Promsvyabank – a state-backed Russian bank – have also been removed from the App Store.
Apple’s removal of Russian financial services was reported by Russian news outlet RBC on Thursday. Three of Promsvyabank’s applications have vanished from the Apple store: mobile banking, PBS investments, and PBS business. Meanwhile, the Google Play Store has also deleted the banking app, but not the latter two.
On Wednesday, Russia announced “special military operations” in Ukraine, and began attacking the nation’s military infrastructure shortly afterward. A slew of Western nations condemned the move as an “invasion” and breach of international law, including the United States.
Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced American sanctions on four of Russia’s largest banks, in order to “limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen to be part of the global economy.”
Though the apps have been removed from Apple’s online store, their functionality will continue for customers that have already downloaded them.
In an email to corporate clients, PSB said that it was attempting to get the PSB Business app re-installed on Apple’s store. Those without the application were encouraged to use the “PSB Internet Bank” on their website.
Nevertheless, with the new sanctions, Promsvyabank’s access to the US financial system is completely cut off.
“All their assets in US jurisdiction are frozen, and US citizens and entities are prohibited from doing business with them without special permission from the office of foreign assets control,” said the US Treasury Department in a statement.
On Friday, Russia’s central bank also confirmed that Apple Pay and Google Pay will no longer be compatible for users of debit and credit cards issued by sanctioned banks.
Crypto’s Role In The Conflict
Crypto has been in the spotlight lately as a tool for easily sending money across borders to political causes. Earlier this month, Bitcoin was being used to raise money for a protest movement in Canada which banks had been ordered not to service by the Canadian government.
This week, crypto has been used to funnel over $4.1 million in funds to the Ukrainian military to stave off Russia’s invasion. Meanwhile, one of the largest European mining pools has elected to stop servicing Russian customers, showing solidarity with Ukraine. This may prove disappointing for president Vladimir Putin, who has previously promoted crypto mining as a profitable industry where Russia has “a lot of advantages”.
That doesn’t mean crypto has chosen a side, however: Some believe Russia may start using crypto to bypass international trade sanctions placed on the nation. Putin also expressed interest in using Bitcoin for precisely this purpose in October, and potentially for trading oil in the long term.