According to a report by Fox News Latino, ATMs in Havana will now accept MasterCard cash advances, including those from Stonegate Bank, the first US bank authorized to provide this service in the island nation, and the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.
Cuban Central Bank (BCC) vice president Irma Margarita Martinez confirmed that MasterCard is already being accepted at Cuban points of sale along with Visa, which have been authorized on the island for some time. Her comments were made today at the first conference on International Monetary Transfers and Remittances being held this week in Havana.
“That possibility is starting now that the pending financial and legal issues have been resolved and thanks to the efforts of the Cuban entities tasked with processing MasterCard and the foreign provider who is facilitating the handling of its operations for us,” she said in a BCC communique made available to the press.
The Cuban bank said that the service, which at first will be offered only in the capital, “will be expanded to the entire country” in the future.
In addition, she confirmed her willingness to, “continue expanding” the types of U.S.-bank-issued credit cards authorized for use in Cuba.
Stonegate Bank won media attention last year for being the first US bank since the 1960 embargo to conclude a correspondent relationship with Cuba’s Banco Internacional de Comercio S.A. (BISCA). Stonegate also took over domestic banking functions for the Cuban embassy after M&T Bank decided to exit the relationship. It is the correspondent relationship that will allow Stonegate Bank to settle debit card transactions with Cuban entities.
“In the past, everyone’s had to use cash, which is difficult. … It’s dangerous. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” Stonegate CEO David Seleski said Tuesday in Havana. “By having a credit card now, people will be able to use corporate travel down here, just like any other country.”
The card is a limited-edition MasterCard. Stonegate will issue only 1,000 cards initially. Each card will feature artwork by celebrated Cuban painter Michel Mirabal.
The Cuban government will waive the usual 10 percent penalty on dollar exchanges for those using the Stonegate cards.