The U.S. and Cuba are building financial relations faster than they’re building diplomatic relations. Some U.S. credits cards can now be used on the island. MasterCard unblocked its credit cards over the weekend. Visa and American Express are expected to follow soon.
CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported from Havana.
Mastercard now operating in Cuba after the U.S. opens up tradeThe U.S. and Cuba are building financial relations faster than they're building diplomatic relations. Some U.S. credits cards can now be used on the island. MasterCard unblocked its credit cards over the weekend. Visa and American Express are expected to follow soon. CCTV America's Michael Voss reported from Havana.
The tourist ban still stands, but increasing numbers of Americans are visiting Cuba following the recent diplomatic breakthrough. For example, a large agricultural delegation arrived over the weekend. Most of these trips are paid for in advance, but now some visitors can use their U.S. credit cards while on the island.
“I think it’s a very positive move, not everyone who comes here has enough cash for everything they want. In the case of Americans this will allow them to buy more expensive things,” Cuban economist Omar Everleny said.
Among the first to benefit could be the cigar shops. They already accept non-U.S. credit cards. For now, Americans can only take home a hundred dollars worth of these expensive hand rolled cigars.
“We have been waiting anxiously for this day to come. We all want to see that first card accepted. Many have tried with U.S. cards before and it proved impossible,” cigar shop manager Elizabeth Arguelles said.
There are limits, though, on what the cards can be used for. None of the new private restaurants or shops has the facilities to accept them. This remains largely a cash-only economy except for hotels, flights and car rentals. Cuba has increased the number of ATM machines around the country.
Cuba may be able to process some U.S. credit cards now, but it still has no access to any major Western banks. To get that the U.S. needs to take Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism. That remains one of the key areas under discussion as the two sides continue their negotiations about re-opening embassies and restoring diplomatic relations.
Mark Ranta of ACI Worldwide discusses Cuba-U.S. trade
CCTV America interviewed Mark Ranta, senior solutions consultant for ACI Worldwide.