Sanctioned Russian bank bypasses SWIFT

State lender VTB launches transfers in Chinese yuan

One of Russia’s top banks, VTB has become the first lender in the country to launch money transfers to China in yuan, sidestepping the global financial messaging system SWIFT.

“The new reality is leading to a massive abandoning of the use of the US dollar and the euro in international payments,” VTB CEO Andrey Kostin said in a statement, highlighting the importance of creating and developing payment systems as an alternative to SWIFT.

“We are the first Russian bank to install an alternative cross-border bank transfer service with China and plan to increase the volume of these transactions by five times by next year,” he added.

According to a VTB press release, the maximum amount of a single money transfer was equivalent to 20 million rubles ($325,000) with the maximum monthly limit set at 100 million rubles ($1.6 million). 

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The bank also announced plans to begin lending in the yuan and other non-Western currencies later this year.

“The launch of the yuan transfer system is expected to significantly simplify the work of Russian companies and individuals with Chinese partners, increasing the popularity of the yuan in our country,” Kostin added.

Ukraine-related sanctions cut Russia’s biggest banks off from SWIFT, limiting their access to the dollar and euro markets.

The drastic measures forced Moscow to develop its own financial infrastructure in cooperation with nations that haven’t imposed sanctions.

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