HAVANA, Dec. 28 (EFE) Cuba will allow the use of international cards with a chip in its ATMs from 2018, with the purpose of increasing security in view of the “high influx” of tourists to the country, where new currency exchange machines are also being tested, official media are published on Thursday .
The measure will serve to gradually replace the use of magnetic stripe cards that circulate on the island, and are easier to counterfeit, including US Visa and MasterCard (issued by banks outside the US), and the Chinese Union Pay , explained the technical director of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC), Orestes Perdomo.
The experience will allow “to evaluate the possible issuance in the future of Cuban chip cards, which creates a unique and exclusive code for each transaction, and thereby increases security,” the executive said, quoted by the state-run Cuban News Agency.
These new provisions coincide with the current process of diversification and updating of banking in the Caribbean country, where cash is still used in most transactions and there is still no automated payment culture.
Mastercard cards could be used in Cuba from June 2016 – in the middle of the tourist “boom” that lived the island after the “thaw” with the US – and have become the most used of its kind in the country, with some 45,000 operations per month, Perdomo said.
Due to the restrictions of the United States embargo, in Cuba only Mastercards issued by banks outside the territory of the USA work, with the exception of Stonegate Bank (Florida) and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.
The island has 920 ATMs, 527 of them in Havana, the capital and main destination for foreign tourists arriving in the country, which expects this year to surpass the record of 4.5 million foreign travelers received in 2016.
Before this influx of visitors, the Cuban banking authorities decided to install two equipment for the automated exchange of foreign currencies, in test phase since last September at the José Martí International Airport in Havana.
The machines facilitate the exchange of the euro, the US dollar and the Canadian dollar to the Cuban CUC (convertible peso equivalent to the dollar).
At the beginning of 2018, they plan to install four more ATMs, two of them at the airport, informed BCC’s General Manager of Servicios Informáticos, Alberto Quiñones.
Quiñones said that the machines dispense money in banknotes and in a fractional way, “a novel possibility that is introduced in the country,” with “positive” results so far.
As part of the strategy to update Cuban banking, industry authorities announced this week the extension for 2018 of the mobile payment service, which works experimentally with 20,000 customers.
The new service allows you to make transfers between bank accounts, check and pay bills for water, electricity and telephone services, among other benefits, news in Cuba despite having been in the rest of the world for years.