PayPal cuts off Crimea; MasterCard opens up to Cuba

PayPal cuts off Crimea; MasterCard opens up to Cuba

PayPal is cutting off services to customers in Crimea in response to western sanctions related to Russia's annexation of the region last year.

“Unfortunately, currently we are not able to provide our services to the clients in Crimea. We apologize for any related inconveniences," a company spokesperson told Russian news agency Tass.

MasterCard and Visa have already taken similar steps, while this week Google also moved to shut down Google Play and block AdSense and AdWords accounts in the region.

The standoff between Russia and the west over Crimea has already had major consequences for the payments ecosystem.

President Putin's determination to reduce Russia's dependence on Western financial systems gas resulted in the development of a new national payments system through which Visa and MasterCard will have to process all transactions in the country.

In addition, with Swift also under pressure from some quarters to cut off Russia, the country's central bank is also vowing to build an international inter-bank payment system to rival the messaging body.

Elsewhere, in a reversal of the trend, MasterCard announced it is removing the current block on US-issued card transactions in Cuba as of March 1, 2015. The move comes after the US government's recent decision to ease long-running sanctions on the communist-run island.

Says a statement: "MasterCard will work with its U.S. issuers to support their Cuba-related activities and decisions. Before travelling to Cuba, U.S. cardholders should contact their bank to ensure the card will be supported on the island."

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