QIWI is dead – long live cryptocurrency? How can Russians transfer money abroad?

After Russia was disconnected from the SWIFT payment system, residents of the country lost almost all of the easiest ways to transfer money abroad. The Central Bank revoked the license of QIWI Bank, and there are even fewer ways. It's time to find out which ones are now available and convenient.

Revocation of license from QIWI

The Bank of Russia revoked the license of QIWI Bank on February 21, 2024. A stub has appeared on the main page of the QIWI website: customers are asked to “wait for clarity”. But you definitely won’t be able to use QIWI wallets and the subsidiary Contact system to transfer money abroad.

Other money transfer systems “Zolotaya Korona”

“Golden Crown” allows you to make payments from Russia to 36 countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, China, UAE, Serbia, Turkey, Uzbekistan. Money can be sent online through a website or application (MIR, Visa, Mastercard and Maestro cards issued in Russia are suitable) and offline, at the offices of Zolotaya Korona partners, including mobile operators Beeline and MTS. The general limit for foreign transfers is $10,000 per month. Transfer from a Russian card to a foreign card is not possible.


The Unistream system makes transfers to the following countries: Armenia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Greece, Cyprus, Mongolia, Serbia. To make a transfer, it is enough to have a Russian MIR card, Visa or Mastercard. You can make three transfers per day, not exceeding 450,000 rubles in total, and in just a month you can send money no more than ten times with a total limit of 700,000 rubles. Transfer from a Russian card to a foreign card is not possible.


Most banks are disconnected from SWIFT, but organizations that have not yet been subject to international sanctions still have ways to transfer money. These are, for example, Raiffeisenbank, Unicredit Bank, Asian-Pacific Bank, Credit Europe Bank, Chelyabinvestbank, Morskoy Bank, Intesa Bank, Center-Invest Bank, Solid Bank, Interprogressbank. Apart from literally the first two, not every resident of Russia can use the rest. Either the branches cannot be found, or they provide services only to a select few (for example, those who opened foreign currency accounts before February 2022). For, for example, Raiffeisenbank, however, the window of opportunity is constantly narrowing:

  • transfers in US dollars are only available to clients with the Premium and Premium 5 service packages, and the package must have been activated before February 28, 2023;

  • from June 21, 2023, it became impossible to transfer pounds to other banks;

  • from July 3, 2023, the list of countries to which euros can be sent has been reduced;

  • From November 1, 2023, it will not be possible to transfer more than 30,000 euros to some countries.

Moreover, the minimum limit for transfers in dollars or euros is 20,000 in the currency of transfer.
Commission: 2%, minimum 15, maximum 1,000 dollars or euros. Transfer from a Russian card to a foreign card is possible.

Yes, this method is better than nothing. However, the trend is developing in such a way that sending money through banks will become more and more difficult and expensive over time.

Some sanctioned banks like Tinkoff Bank, Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Rosbank cover the area of the near abroad, China, Turkey and a number of others from the list of “countries non-hostile to the Russian Federation”. But in these countries, banks are trying to do less and less business with Russian counterparties (literally over the last week, four Chinese and several Turkish banks stopped working with individuals and legal entities from the Russian Federation). It is better to check with the specific bank for the list of remaining available countries and the terms of transfers.


Another way out is to try using solutions based on the Chinese UnionPay system. In Russia, UnionPay cards are issued by Gazprombank, Rosselkhozbank, Primsotsbank and the Asian-Pacific Bank. However, when used abroad, problems often arise (few banks, much less retail outlets, accept UnionPay cards for payment). Therefore, the solution cannot be called an analogue of pre-sanction Visa, Mastercard or even American Express.

Co-branded cards

Mention should also be made of the so-called co-branding cards, which combine two payment systems at once.. It works like this: in Russia the card is valid through the MIR system (other systems in the country do not work), and abroad through UnionPay. However, this does not save you from the problems outlined in the paragraph above, but it does add to the ease of using the card in Russia.


Compared to fiat, cryptocurrencies look relatively reliable in terms of global penetration and transaction costs. Yes, sanctions have affected crypto exchanges, not everyone wants to work with Russian clients, but over-the-counter transactions are doing great. P2P transfers (in the classical sense for cryptocurrency as a peer-to-peer or peer-to-peer system) have not been canceled, so the same non-custodial wallets are safe. Of course, with the caveat that you take precautions, store private keys in a safe place and do not fall for scammers like trying to replace addresses.

Since transfers in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or stablecoins are not technically limited in any way geographically, and in comparison with current bank commissions for transfers via SWIFT they are also cheaper. Other solutions are still available for Russians, but are associated with high fees, a limited list of countries where money can be transferred and the expectation of new sanctions.

This material and the information contained herein do not constitute individual or other investment advice.. The opinion of the editors may not coincide with the opinions of the author, analytical portals and experts.