Russia to keep identity of payment system members secret

The central bank will no longer disclose the names of companies using SPFS

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said on Tuesday it will stop disclosing the identity of participants in the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), the country’s alternative to SWIFT. Until recently, the list was posted on the regulator’s website.

“Under the current circumstances, we decided not to disclose on the website the list of companies connected to the system,” the CBR’s press service said, adding that “the users of the system can still see the list.”

Some Russian banks were cut off from SWIFT recently, effectively denying them access to international markets. The ban was part of the latest Western sanctions targeting Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.

According to the central bank governor, Elvira Nabiullina, most Russian banks, as well as 52 foreign organizations from 12 countries, have access to SPFS.

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“Until there was such a threat of being cut off from SWIFT, foreign partners weren’t in much of a rush to join, but now we expect their readiness to be greater,” she added.

Russia’s payment mechanism SPFS has similar functionality and allows the transmission of messages in SWIFT format. It was created as an analogue to SWIFT that has been developed by the Bank of Russia since 2014.

A March report from French credit insurer Coface said that banks from Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan, Sweden, and Turkey were among those connected to SPFS. According to Interfax, 331 organizations were connected to the Russian payment system as of the end of February, including banks from Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Cuba.

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