MasterCard Operational in Cuban ATMs

First Conference on International Cash Transfers in Havana is seen as an important step in this area, despite the persistence of the US blockade and the legal restrictions in the financial field impeding the normalization of relations in the sector

By: Ledys Camacho


2016-06-28 | 16:21:33 EST
Senior vice president of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) Senior vice president of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) Photo: Jorge Legañoa AlonsoZoom

From Monday MasterCard cards issued by non-US banks, in addition to the Stonegate Bank and Banco Popular of Puerto Rico, may be used for all kinds of operations in the network of ATMs located in the Cuban capital, according to official requests for processing in the country.

This was announced by Irma Margarita Martinez, senior vice president of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) during the First Conference on International Cash Transfers (IMTC Cuba 2016) which was organized by an American consulting company and in the context of the standardization process of relations between the two countries, is meeting from June 27 to 29 at the Melia Cohiba Hotel in Havana.

Speaking to the press during the opening day of the Conference, the First Vice President of the BCC said that this announcement has been made possible by solving financial and legal issues that were pending.

This responds also, she said, to the Cuban entities responsible management processing MasterCard and the external provider that facilitates processing operations. She noted that this new possibility adds to the already existing shops and banks with POS terminals (POS) services which will be gradually extended throughout the national territory.

The official said that the country is ready to incorporate into its network cards issued by US banks upon request, and she said that there are still no transfers in US dollars between Cuba and the northern nation, but today the systems are being tested and there are some approximations based on it as a safe and effective process.

The official pointed out that since last March the use of US dollar transactions in Cuba was authorized by the US, but none has materialized, because it requires that Cuban banks have bank accounts in that country, and it is not yet possible by the restrictions of the blockade.

Only US banks can establish a business relationship with our country, in particular with the International Bank of Commerce (BICSA) from July 2015.

According to Tania Fernandez, who attends the Greater Antilles for that US entity, they have already issued 500 new cards for use on the island.

Attending the forum in Havana, said Irma Margarita Martinez, there are about 80 company representatives from 14 nations and firms linked to the remittances sector and financial services.

Specialists and managers of the Central Bank and the non-bank financial institution Fincimex, as a leader on the island in the activity of international remittances are  participating for Cuba, as well as other institutions in the national banking system.

The First Vice President of the BCC today stressed that technological development times are being imposed with growth at a rapid pace and its application in all sectors facilitates the lives of people, in this case those who have access to financial services.

She said the event is an opportunity to publicize the particularities of financial activity and show the possibilities of the Cuban market to ensure a safe flow of monetary transfers, in addition to promoting the exchange of experiences and concerns about the payments industry and international money transfers.

"The BCC as the maximum regulator of the financial and banking system attempts to maintain an approach that preserves the viability of the products and services offered by our institutions to promote, on the one hand, the necessary financial inclusion and, secondly, compliance requirements for reasonable control, monitoring and safety, in line with international standards, "said the official.

"US companies are involved in the forumi n the new context of the ties between the two countries, as part of building a new relationship beneficial for both as well as for the region and the world, "said Martinez.

She noted that even if the blockade continues and in the financial sector and banking legal restrictions impeding the normalization of relations in the sector are present, the possibility of the forum is a step on the path that must be forged in this matter.

Hugo Cuevas-Mohr, director of the IMTC & Mohr World Consulting, said that these conferences specialize in issues in the sector and enable discussing future trends in money transfers by migrants, calling remittances a development tool for savings and investment.

Translated by ESTI

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