On Monday The Bank of Russia announced all Russian financial institutions will be banned from using the SWIFT messaging system for transactions inside the country.

As of October all Russian banks will be required to only use domestic messaging systems for transferring messages between institutions, regarding financial transactions within the country. At that point the use of SWIFT will only be allowed for the transfer of messages regarding international payments.

In a statement, the Bank of Russia said, “This will ensure reliability, continuity and security of data exchange when conducting intra-Russian transactions.”

Now institutions will have to use the Bank of Russia’s own banking systems, services of Russian third-party companies, or the bank of Russia’s own financial messaging system, SPFS to transmit information on such transactions.

The Bank of Russia created the SPFS in 2018 as a substitute for SWIFT in the transfer of domestic financial messaging. Although it is used by a smaller number of institutions than SWIFT’s 11,000 financial institutions globally, the number of users for SPFS is growing in recent months. As of February, the system has 469 users, including 115 foreign entities in 14 different nations.

Last year some of Russia’s largest financial institutions were disconnected from SWIFT as part of economic sanctions leveled against Russia by the West, forcing Moscow to develop an alternative system for dealing with foreign partners.

Currently, ten Russian banks have been disconnected from SWIFT, among them Sberbank, VTB, Otkrytie, Rosselkhozbank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya, Sovcombank, VEB.RF, and MKB. In addition, some other banks may not be disconnected, but may face difficulties using the system due to blocking sanctions implemented by Western countries.

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