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Russia, payment systems, and the law of unintended consequences

Amidst anti-war protests around the world, the calls to ban Russia and Russian banks from SWIFT and other financial messaging networks have puzzled many who are not payments professionals.

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January 12, 2023

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Friends ask me what SWIFT is, how it works, and what effect it will have on the Russian economy and ordinary citizens. People simply don’t understand.

As the horrific humanitarian crisis unfolds because of this misguided, unnecessary, and tragic invasion, what was once an operational detail deep inside the international financial system is now being used to create some of the strongest economic sanctions the world has ever seen. The consequences of these sanctions will be far-reaching and have vast unintended consequences for payment systems and the stakeholders — chiefly financial institutions and market infrastructures — that operate and use them.

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First published on The Paypers, March 14, 2022

Leo Lipis

Leo is the founder of Lipis Advisors and has over 25 years of experience in payment systems consulting and research on all six continents. Prior to founding Lipis Advisors in 2007, he held positions in payments strategy and analysis with commercial banks, clearing houses, and central banks. Leo works chiefly in transaction banking, payment system strategy & design, and treasury management.