Russia’s Tinkoff Bank Remains Unsanctioned, Connected To SWIFT, And Accepts Foreign Owned Accounts

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Good news for foreign business travellers to Russia – as Visa, Amex and Mastercard are inoperable, Tinkoff Bank will accept foreign account holders and will issue ATM cards to them to access funds wired to Russia.

Foreigners travelling to Russia can access Western funds and ATMs in Russia via Tinkoff’s services. 

Russia’s Tinkoff Bank has avoided Western sanctions – partially because its founder, Oleg Tinkov had criticized Russian President Putin over the Ukraine conflict. Now removed from his position as Chairman, and hiding somewhere in Europe, Tinkov has sold his shares in the bank – but the bank itself remains unsanctioned.

Tinkoff is one of the world’s largest and most profitable independent digital banks and is part of the London-listed TCS Group Holding PLC, Russia’s largest digital services provider. Completely cloud-based, without possessing any branches, Tinkoff offers products ranging from current accounts and online securities trading for individuals to accounting and tax support services for small and mid-sized businesses.

That is good news for the remaining foreign businesspeople who still wish to travel to Russia, as the bank remains connected to SWIFT, provides bank account facilities to foreigners, and provides bank debit cards that can be used in Russia. Accounts can be opened from overseas, money transferred to the bank and an ATM card provided upon arrival in Russia. This creates an avenue for foreign executives travelling to Russia to access funds – all Western ATM issued debit and credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express have been blocked from use in the country.

The procedure is to apply for the card in advance by downloading their app on your smart phone – an English language service is available. Apply for the card online, then before you arrive you can call the bank (8 800 555-777-8 (can speak English)) and make the appointment to receive the card. They arrive themselves to your address at your requested time, and just require a copy of your passport and Russia visa for account activation and the immediate issuance of a debit card.

Tinkoff has one card that can be used for multiple accounts. This means that foreign businesspeople can open USD and ruble accounts under the Tinkoff bank online (in the app) and connect your issued Tinkoff ATM card, switching from one of these accounts to another as necessary to use. It is possible to both receive US$ (or other currencies such as Euros) in Russia as well as to transfer money out of Russia (to a maximum of US$10,000) via the Tinkoff facility. The banks Linked In page is here.

Tinkoff Bank won the RBI’s European Retail Bank of the Year at its 2020 global awards. We recommend using the Tinkoff facility purely for business travel usage in Russia in the absence of support services from Western card suppliers.

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