According reports issued by The Guardian in November, the Cuban government closed all 400 Western Union offices in the country after Washington, D.C. blacklisted Fincimex, a military company that processes payments from Cubans based abroad.
The Guardian said the move “would eliminate most remittances and worsen the country’s deep economic crisis.”
And Reuters informed that Western Union declared: “Today we inform our customers that they have limited time to send money to their loved ones from the United States to Cuba”.
Cubans living abroad now have until November 22 to send money to Cuba, with offices closing on November 23.
The US Treasury last week banned all companies in the US from doing business with Fincimex on any account.
Google Trends data
The move could force Cubans to seek alternatives based on cryptocurrencies. Even before the closure of Fincimex and Western Union, the term “buy bitcoin” was growing on Google Trends in Spanish-speaking areas.
In addition, this term is more popular in Cuba:
Cubans are increasingly desperate to solve their remittance-related problems, with a large part of the population depending on receiving funds from relatives working abroad.
This phenomenon led to the emergence of a platform called BitRemesas in Cuba. This solution involves intermediate operators who charge BTC commission fees of up to 25% to convert remittances of bitcoin from abroad into fiduciaries and deliver them to the intended recipients – usually by bicycle, traveling distances of 14 km in extremely hot conditions to deliver money in hand.
According to the Havana Consulting Group and Dice, in the past 10 years, the Cuban population has received USD 29.95bn in remittances. 90% of that money came from the United States. In 2018, the value of remittances to Cuba was estimated at US $ 3.69 billion, an 3.6% growth compared to 2017, said the consultancy.