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‘Apple Pay and Google Pay No Longer Work on Moscow’s Metro System,’ Causing Queues

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Apple Pay and Google Pay stopped working for some users on Moscow's metro system due to sanctions which followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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On February 28 2022, Irish journalist Jason Corcoran tweeted the following image, which was purportedly a photograph of long queues at a Moscow metro station after Apple Pay and Google Pay stopped working in Russia:

Corcoran wrote:

Apple Pay and Google Pay no longer work on Moscow’s metro system, leading to long queues as people fumble about for cash

Information about the image (such as location) did not appear in the tweet. However, its claim around Apple Pay and Google Pay were reflected in a February 27 2022 article on Indian news site Daijaworld.com, “Russian bank customers barred from using Apple, Google Pay,” reporting that due to heavy global sanctions, some Russian users could no longer access the services:

Thousands of Russian customers have been barred from using Apple Pay and Google Pay services after the US imposed heavy financial sanctions on the country for invading Ukraine [in late February 2022].

Customers at several banks in Russia reported they were unable to use their bank cards with Google Pay and Apple Pay.

According to a statement by Russia’s Central Bank, customers of banks that fell under the sanctions (VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Otkritie) will not be able to pay with cards of these banks abroad.

On February 26 2022, tech site The Verge noted that the services were less popular in Russia than in the US, and reported:

Customers at a number of banks in Russia can no longer use their bank cards with Google Pay and Apple Pay due to newly-imposed financial sanctions on the country, as reported by Insider. According to a press release from Russia’s Central Bank, affected financial institutions include VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, and Otkritie FC Bank.

While customers can still use bank cards from these institutions within Russia, they’ll no longer work abroad or when making online payments to stores and services belonging to countries that issued sanctions on Russia.

This also includes card payments through Apple Pay and Google Pay, although the Central Bank says contactless payments will still be available with the bank cards themselves, given that they support it.

On February 28 2022, ABC News mentioned Moscow’s metro in a broader piece about the immediate effects of the conflict and the global response on Russia’s economy:

Russians wary that sanctions would deal a crippling blow to the economy [had] been flocking to banks and ATMs for days, with reports on social media of long lines and machines running out. People in some central European countries also rushed to pull money from subsidiaries of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank after the Russian parent bank was hit with international sanctions.

Moscow’s department of public transport warned city residents over the weekend [of February 26 and 27 2022] that they might experience problems with using Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay to pay fares because VTB, another Russian bank facing sanctions, handles card payments in Moscow’s metro, buses and trams.

On the same day, CBS News reported:

People wary that sanctions would deal a crippling blow to the economy have been flocking to banks and ATMs for days, with reports in social media of long lines and machines running out of cash. Moscow’s department of public transport warned city residents over the weekend that they might experience problems with using Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay to pay fares because VTB, one of the Russian banks facing sanctions, handles card payments in Moscow’s metro, buses and trams.

On February 28 2022, a viral tweet claimed that Moscow’s metro users experienced queues due to disruptions in the availability of Apple Pay and Google Pay in Russia — a function of sanctions which followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Contemporaneous reporting indicated that Moscow’s department of public transport warned of the possible disruption the preceding weekend, and technology outlets previously noted some Russian users could not access Apple Pay or Google Pay in late February 2022.