The Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) are reportedly contemplating introducing cryptocurrency payment methods to Russian travelers in Thailand. The move would serve as an escape hatch since Russia’s citizens were slammed with severe restrictions from numerous countries, companies, and businesses following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Thailand Seeking to Help Russians
Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine led many nations to declare economic war on the largest country by landmass to isolate it from the global financial world. The West expelled certain Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system. At the same time, major companies like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal announced they will stop serving Russian-based clients.
Contrary to those penalties, Thailand seeks to offer alternative cryptocurrency settlement options to Russian tourists. According to a local report, PTA’s President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said digital assets could serve as a backup in case transactions are canceled.
He also hinted that Thai businesses could start interacting with the Russian payment system Mir and utilize proceedings between each other.
Ruktaengam stated there are currently 3,500-4,000 Russian tourists and 300-400 Ukrainian visitors in Phuket. Another 3,000 travelers from both nations are located in Krabi, Koh Samui, and Pattaya.
Ordinary tourists are allowed to stay a maximum of 60 days in Thailand. Despite the numerous requests, the Thai authorities said they will not extend the visas of those who cannot return home due to the military conflict.
On the other hand, the government declared that no tourists from either country will be deported against their will.
Russia Turned to China’s UnionPay
As the list of financial payments providers presenting plans to withdraw from the Russian market keeps growing, the country started looking for monetary alternatives in its southern neighbor China.
A few days ago, the Bank of Russia said local lenders will be able to employ the UnionPay system. The latter is headquartered in Shanghai, China, and operates in more than 180 countries, the central bank stated.
The institution also added that several Russian banks already use UnionPay, while others (including Sberbank and Tinkoff) could start issuing cards, which combine Russia’s domestic Mir settlement system with the Chinese one.
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