Cryptocurrencies in Cuba are experiencing an extraordinary boom. In a context of serious economic crisis, devaluation of the national currency and freezing of relations between Washington and Havana, in addition to a pandemic that seems endless, cryptocurrencies have become a lifeline for many.
The reception of remittances, online purchases in stores abroad, mobile phone recharges, trading and even investments in crypto-asset management platforms have been some of the most common uses of cryptocurrencies in Cuba.
Cuban entrepreneurs have been able to take advantage of this scenario. PanamericanWorld takes a closer look at four projects that focus their business model on cryptocurrencies.
P2P exchanges to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in Cuba
Buying and selling cryptocurrencies may not be difficult for much of the world. With a Visa or MasterCard debit and / or credit card it is possible to acquire a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, on the main international trading platforms (exchanges). Even PayPal is entering this market.
For Cubans these “traditional” methods are like mission impossible. Given the impossibility of access to the Visa and MasterCard payment systems and with access denied to PayPal due to the United States Embargo, how can Cubans buy and sell cryptocurrencies? The answer can found in decentralized exchanges that use the peer-to-peer (P2P) mechanism.
One of these P2P exchanges is HeavenEx, which was initially CubaXchange. This platform allows Cubans to place offers for the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies, with payments through transfers in Pesos (CUP), Dollars (MLC), and bank transfers. The site uses an escrow system, through which it protects the two parties involved in the transaction, in exchange for a 0.5% commission on the transaction.
In addition, HeavenEx allows you to recharge mobile phones in Cuba with cryptocurrencies, and to acquire Visa and MasterCard virtual (not rechargeable) cards.
PanamericanWorld spoke with two of the Cuban entrepreneurs who were promoting this project. Now we spoke again with Félix Ulloa. “Since its inception as CubaXchange, the site has enjoyed widespread acceptance. People ask us for updates, they make recommendations on things that they wish to see improved. We already have an integrated platform for purchasing cryptocurrencies with Visa and MasterCard. We keep working and improving our services ”, assured Ulloa.
Remittances to Cuba in cryptocurrencies
Sending remittances to Cuba has become a headache for the huge community of Cubans living around the world. The sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration led to the closing of hundreds of Western Union offices, distributed throughout the country. Recently, the Cuban government decided not to accept any more dollar bank deposits in cash, only through bank transfers.
In this extremely complicated context and with so many closed doors, sending remittances to Cuba in cryptocurrencies has become one of the most attractive options. Today there are several sites that offer this service. The first to hit the market was BitRemesas.
This platform has a peculiar operation mode because it is the community of crypto enthusiasts in Cuba that is in charge of completing the process.
As soon as a person sends cryptocurrencies to a relative or friend in Cuba, the notice of this transaction reaches the BitRemesas community. Whoever decides to accept it is in charge of sending the money to the beneficiary, in cash, personally or through a bank transfer.
BitRemesas does not place any tax on remittances. Their business model, with which they generate profits in Bitcoin, is through the auction mechanism, which stems from the competition created among the buyers of the cryptocurrency sent.
In addition, BitRemesas allows users to pay various services in Cuba using cryptocurrencies, such as electricity, but also recharging mobile phones or the Nauta account to surf the Internet.
E-commerce with a payment gateway in cryptocurrencies
One of the most popular cryptocurrency ventures in Cuba is QvaPay, a payment gateway that emerged in 2021 and already has more than 40,000 registered users. Its founder is renowned entrepreneur and youtuber Erich García Cruz.
With QvaPay it is possible to carry out a wide variety of operations with cryptocurrencies. For example, users can fund their accounts through seven payment mechanisms (from Bitcoin and Litecoin to AirTM and Payeer); they can also withdraw their funds from QvaPay through 21 payment mechanisms.
Balance can be transferred directly among users, without the platform charging commissions. With this balance you can buy, in QvaPay, non-rechargeable Visa debit cards, as well as cards from Google Play, the App Store, Netflix, Walmart gift cards and mobile phone recharges from the Cuban telecommunications company (Etecsa). QvaPay offers Cuban entrepreneurs its API so that they can integrate this payment gateway on their websites, thus having the option of charging for the products or services they offer.