Desperate Cubans are going to great lengths to receive remittances from abroad to bypass the country’s banking blockade, turning to bitcoin (BTC), middlemen who take commissions up to 25% and bicycle deliveries as economic sanctions continue to bite.
These are the results of a report by the AFP news agency (via the Peruvian newspaper Gestión).
The nation spent 58 years under the economic blockade after the United States first imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1962, but overseas Cubans continue to look for ways to get around banks in their attempt to send money home. with most of the world’s major financial institutions wary of doing any kind of business with the nation. Band, PayPal, Visa and other telephone and electronic payment services do not offer services for Cuban citizens residing in their home countries.
In 2017 alone, overseas Cubans sent $ 3.5 billion worth to the island state.
The media agency reported that a bitcoin-based remittance platform called Cookies it has become more and more popular in the country.
This involves family and friends based overseas sending BTC via the platform. But instead of sending them to their families – often bankless and illiterate in everything related to cryptocurrencies – the intermediaries instead demand the right to “deliver” these remittances in person.
This involves “converting” BTC’s remittances into fiat and delivering them in person to their intended recipients, often cycling 14km journeys through the unforgiving Cuban heat.
The rewards, however, are profitable. AFP said Bitremesas brokers can earn “up to 25%” in commissions from trades, effectively bagging a quarter of all BTC sent.
The news agency quoted a Bitremesas freelance broker as saying “unofficial calculations” have estimated that a community of 10,000 Cubans uses bitcoin, particularly for remittance-related purposes.
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