US lobbied for Visa & Mastercard in Russia, leaks reveal

Visa and Mastercard became embroilled in the ongoing Wikileaks scandal this week, after blocking donations to the transparency group. Both payments companies suffered denial of service attacks coordinated by Wikileaks supporters in retaliation of their actions.

Now, it has emerged that Visa and Mastercard are the subject of diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks.

Newly leaked cables reveal that the US government lobbied aginst Russian plans to launch its own credit card and payments service, the Daily Telegraph reports today. If successful, the service would have cost Visa and Mastercard billions of dollars in lost revenue.

It was believed that the Russian government wanted to set up the system because it suspected Visa and Mastercard of passing details of payments to the US government, the cables reportedly reveal.

“Credit card company and bank representatives have told us that [government of Russia] officials apparently assume that US payment systems routinely share data associated with payment transactions by Russian cardholders with intelligence services in the US and elsewhere," a US diplomat wrote in one cable.

Visa and Mastercard have both blocked payments to Wikileaks’ donation account. "Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks’ website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules,"Visa said in a statement.

The online group Anonymous, affiliated with the controversial message board site 4chan, has claimed responsibility for the denial of service attacks that followed.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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