Paper Money

Russia’s new note can’t be released due to sanctions

The release of the Central Bank of Russia’s new 100-ruble note is delayed because western firms that service ATMs will not update the needed software.

Images courtesy of the Central Bank of Russia.

The Bank of Russia introduced a new 100-ruble bank note on June 30 completely different from the current one that features the Bolshoi Theater. It has just one problem — it will not be introduced into circulation any time soon, because if it were it would be rejected by most of the country’s ATM machines.

The western companies that service the machines, including NCR and Diebold Nixdorf, have all left the country in compliance with sanctions over Russia’s war with Ukraine. The companies installed and maintained the machines and now refuse to provide the updated software a new bank note requires for them to work. The news was first reported by Russia’s Kommersant business daily on June 30 and then quickly disseminated by the independent Moscow Times, followed by numerous western media outlets.

 Kommersant quoted someone in the payment industry as saying the central bank was “warned that the new banknotes could be impossible to use because of the service providers’ refusal to issue updates for them.” It also mentioned that the Association of Russian Banks, a nongovernmental organization representing the interests of 145 members, asked for a delay of the introduction of the new notes this spring, and that a Central Bank official warned it would take between six months and a year for Russia to update ATMs, point of sale terminals, and cash registers to recognize the new bank notes.

The new bill is worth about $1.75 U.S. at current exchange rates.

It is supposed to have higher durability and upgraded security features. Its face shows the Kremlin’s landmark main tower that overlooks Red Square. The Spasskaya Tower was erected in 1491 during the reign of Ivan the Great and is one of Moscow’s most recognized symbols.

The back shows the Rzhev Memorial to the Russian Soldier. The 82-foot-tall statue was dedicated by Vladimir Putin on June 30, 2020, in memory of the Soviet soldiers who died in World War II. The battles that took place near Rzhev, 130 miles northwest of Moscow close to the Latvian border, between Jan. 8, 1942, and March 31, 1943, were some of the bloodiest ones of the war. Casualties were as high as 2.3 million people. The battles are referred to as the “Rzhev Meat Grinder.”

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