Cash machine says no: How Russia’s new 100 rouble banknotes have been rendered useless

·2-min read
The 100 rouble banknote has been redesigned, but Western sanctions mean it cannot be withdrawn from many cash machines - Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters
The 100 rouble banknote has been redesigned, but Western sanctions mean it cannot be withdrawn from many cash machines - Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Russia's new "patriotic" 100 rouble banknote is impossible to withdraw from ATMs because the Western companies that programmed them have quit the country.

The Association of Russian Banks has asked for a six-month delay to the introduction of the banknote, which carries a drawing of a Second World War memorial to "heroic" Soviet soldiers, because bank machines require reprogramming to dispense them.

"With the departure of suppliers, any updates to the software of … ATMs, as well as cash registers and terminals, have become impossible,” the Kommersant newspaper quoted the association as saying.

The headache of how to get the new 100 rouble banknote, worth roughly £1.50, into circulation highlights how Western-imposed sanctions are impacting businesses in Russia.

Around 60 per cent of bank machines in Russia were manufactured by Diebold Nixdorf using software installed by NCR.

Diebold Nixdorf and NCR are both US companies that have suspended sales and services to Russia since Vladimir Putin, the country’s president, ordered an invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24.

Russia's 100 rouble banknote was last updated in 2015, when the Russian Central Bank introduced a new design to commemorate the annexation of Crimea the year before. This banknote replaced a design that had been in circulation since the 1990s.

Unveiling the new banknote on June 30, the Russian Central Bank said that new security features were needed. However, it may also have wanted a design that reflects the current defiant mood of the country.

Sergey Belov, deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, unveiling the new note on June 30 - Evgenia Novozhenina/reuters
Sergey Belov, deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, unveiling the new note on June 30 - Evgenia Novozhenina/reuters

The Rzhev Memorial to the Soviet Soldier will feature on the new banknote. It was constructed in 2020 and is focused on a 25m tall statue of a Soviet soldier, with a square jaw and steely eyes, erected on a 10m grass mound. On the other side of the banknote is a drawing of the Kremlin.

The Kremlin's propaganda machine has been pumping out messages to ordinary Russians that the invasion of Ukraine was necessary to defend Russia from a growing Nazi threat. It regularly draws comparisons with the fight against Nazi Germany in the Second World War and its war in Ukraine.

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