The Central Bank of Russia announced on Tuesday, April 19, that it will stop disclosing the identity of participants in the Financial Message Transmission System (SPFS), the country’s alternative to SWIFT.
“Under the current circumstances, we decided not to disclose on the website [of the Central Bank of Russia] the list of companies connected to the system,” the bank’s press service said, adding that “the users of the system can still see the list.”
Until now, the list has been published on the website of the Russia’s Central Bank, which created SPFS in 2014 as an alternative to SWIFT in the face of sanctions risks. Now, when trying to open a page with a list of organizations participating in the system, the Central Bank’s website notifies that the address is typed incorrectly, or such a page no longer exists, Interfax reports.
According to the Central Bank Chairman, Elvira Nabiullina, currently, 52 foreign organizations from 12 countries are users of the SPFS. In total, as of the end of February 2022, 331 organizations, including banks from Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Cuba, were connected to the Russian system. A March report from French credit insurer Coface also said that banks from Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan, Sweden, and Turkey were among those connected to SPFS.
“Until there was such a threat of being cut off from SWIFT, foreign partners weren’t in much of a rush to join, but now we expect their readiness to be greater,” she added.
It is noted that Russia’s SPFS payment system has similar functionality and allows the transmission of messages in SWIFT format.
As reminded, the State Duma of the Russian Federation on Wednesday, April 20, have also adopted a law that imposes restrictions on Russian credit institutions in providing information to the competent authorities of foreign states, including judicial authorities.
The adopted law says that it is prohibited for a credit institution to provide the competent authorities of foreign states (including judicial authorities) “with information requested by such authorities about customers and transactions performed by them, customer representatives, beneficiaries and beneficial owners.”