In the last couple of days, the news of MasterCards in Iran grabbed a lot of attention to the point that even MasterCard reacted to this news and denied any cooperation with Iran.
You might be wondering what’s the big deal about MasterCards or any credit card services in Iran? the answer is easy, Iranians don’t have any kind of official international payment methods in the country meaning Iranians can’t order anything outside of the country. Even when Iranians travel abroad they are only able to carry cash with them in order to make payments. Of course, there are dozens of companies in the country which are enabling the Iranians to acquire credit cards in their names or even purchase a prepaid credit cards with higher currency rates. This method is not suitable for Iranians, simply because they have to pay more because of the middleman companies in between which are providing these services. Basically people who are really in need of international payment options are forced to use this method and for the companies which are working internationally, they usually have other branches in foreign countries to be able to have an international bank account to do their business.
Last March, it was announced that the Central Bank of Iran Central Bank of Iran initiated the processes of negotiating with Visa and MC is to have their services in the country. But again U.S. sanctions are causing trouble for any kind of cooperation with Iran. “MasterCard does not have any activities in Iran, as sanctions have remained in place for US-based companies for some time,” the spokesman of MasterCard, Seth Eisen told Azerbaijan’s Trend. That might be true because the Iranian company, Vision Card Iranian which is proving this service in the country logically has a presence outside of Iran. In this way, the Banks and financial institute are working with other branches of Vision Card Iranian that are not located in Iran, and they are just issuing prepaid credit card which doesn’t have the complicated process of issuing the actual credit card. You can even buy these prepaid credit cards online. The point of MasterCard spokesman is right, MasterCard has no activity in Iran. It’s the government that found a way to provide an international payment method for individuals, as it’s not a suitable method of payment for businesses.
Iranian officials had already announced that the country is preparing a ground for the people to use credit cards (such as JCB) provided by Asian banks, by the time the restrictions for using the international electronic payment operators such as Visa and MasterCard are removed. Earlier, in February, Iyzico (a Turkish payment provider) signed a deal with an Iran PSP (Payment Service Provider) to enabling its customers to process transactions from some 230 million payment cards, which until recently were not connected to any financial system outside Iran. The point is, the U.S might cause some trouble as they did before, but Iran will connect to the outside world financially whether U.S allowed it or not. The question is when is it going to happen in full scale.