Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, tech companies are blocking transactions in the region, upholding the U.S. sanctions on Crimea. These blocks have been brought about to exert pressure on Russia which is in conflict with Ukraine over Crimea. Both the U.S. and Europe support Ukraine in the conflict.

The United States in December barred U.S.-registered companies from investing in Crimea or providing import or export services to companies there. Visa and MasterCard pulled out of the region promptly after the decision. PayPal and Google followed suit soon after. Google however will continue its unpaid web services like search, maps and Gmail.

The PayPal press office told The Moscow Times on Friday.”As a global payment provider, we make every effort to comply with laws and regulations around the world … Unfortunately we are not able to provide our services to customers located in Crimea at this time,”Russia’s Central Bank granted PayPal a license to facilitate transactions between Russian merchants and consumers in May 2013. However, in light of recent events Russia is vowing to enhance its banking services. The central bank plans to build an international inter- bank payment system to rival Swift, which is also under pressure to cut off Russia.

In a separate turn of events, MasterCard is lifting a block on U.S. bank card transactions in Cuba under directions of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, effective from March 1st . After Obama’s announcement last month about relaxation on trade and travel, Americans can now use their credit cards in the country. MasterCard and Visa Inc. cards issued by banks outside the U.S. are already accepted in the Caribbean nation.

Mastercard announced in a statement “MasterCard will work with its U.S. issuers to support their Cuba-related activities and decisions. Before travelling to Cuba, U.S. cardholders should contact their bank to ensure the card will be supported on the island.”

North Korea will continue to be blocked by MasterCard for transactions involving U.S. bank cards, while Iran, Syria and Sudan will be blocked for cards issued anywhere in the world, the company said.

(image credit: Alex Brown)

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