Iran’s payment system is connecting to the world one country at a time. Russia, Oman, Azerbaijan, Turkey, China, Japan and Iraq are among the countries which are in the process of connecting to the Iranian payment system, SHETAB.

Iran has no connection to International Payment Networks such as Visa and MasterCard. But Iran’s payment system is connecting to the world whether U.S. allows it or not. Of course, connecting to the U.S. based (or any ties with U.S.) payment providers are not allowed but there are other payment networks that Iran could connect to. Companies such as China’s Union Pay, Japan’s JCB, Turkey’s Iyzico and even Paymentwall (which was postponed) have already taken steps towards the full establishment in Iran. And now according to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the Iranian payment system is connecting to Russian and Omani banks. The test transactions have already begun in Russia, while ATMs in both countries will start operating with the foreign cards by the end of August. Later, other payment gateways will be available as well.

Why Russia?

The Russian national payment system called Mir was established in July 2014 to minimize potential risks from further financial sanctions from the West and to reduce dependence on western Visa and MasterCard systems. In 2014, these two international payment systems suspended cooperation with several Russian banks due to the U.S. sanctions. The first Mir payment cards were issued in December 2015. According to REALNOE VREMYA, at the beginning of May, President Putin signed a decree on the national payment system. The document requires all state employees to be switched to the domestically issued Mir payment cards from July 2018. 

As CBI points out in its statement, integration of Iran-Russia bank cards will help develop tourism facilities throughout Iran for Russian tourists and other countries with common interests while easing the money transfers for Iranian tourists traveling to Russia. Expanding this integration will be the beginning of standardization and internationalization of the Iranian payment system— SHETAB — across the world.  

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