Cuba closed 45 businesses for not including electronic payment in their sales

Negocios en Cuba sin pago electrónico enfrentarán multas, cierres y decomisos

HAVANA, March 15  Cuba closed a total of 45 businesses for not including electronic payment among their payment options, the state press reported this Thursday.This measure occurs in the context of what is known as the “banking process”, a series of measures that the Government launched last year to reduce the use of cash, which is still predominant in all transactions within the country.

Officials from the Ministry of Domestic Trade also applied 89 fines and withdrew 75 commercial authorizations within the 3,341 businesses – private and state – inspected in February, according to the Granma newspaper, the official organ of the Communist Party (PCC, the only legal one).

“62% of non-compliance is identified in the non-state [private] sector,” according to a note published on the official Cubadebate site.

Of the total, 893 businesses did not comply “with the provisions”, mainly agricultural markets and state bakeries.

Last November, the island Government established a three-month period for companies – state or private – to include electronic transfers by telephone or bank card as a form of payment. Otherwise, he warned, he would suspend his activities.

The provision, published in the Official Gazette, is the last step in the banking process, which began in August.

In Cuba, the so-called “national gateways”, national digital payment systems, and “point-of-sale terminals (dataphones)” coexist.

Although banking has made progress, paying in cash continues to be the first option for Cubans, who often have to wait in long lines to withdraw bills from ATMs.

Hotels, as well as state currency stores, concentrate a large part of the few dataphones that work in the country, according to official media.

In addition to “banking”, the Government announced in 2023 that private businesses would have a limit of 5,000 Cuban pesos (CUP) – about 42 dollars at the official exchange rate – to withdraw in each operation.

According to independent economists consulted by EFE at that time, the limit for the private sector lies on a thin line between what is “necessary” and a “banking corralito.”

The experts recalled that small and medium-sized private companies on the island need CUP in cash to exchange for dollars on the black market – they cannot do so in the banking system – to import their products.