Cuba’s Central Bank limits use of cash – aims for all to move to electronic payments

4th September 2023

Cuba’s Central Bank (BCC) has introduced a series of measures aimed at constraining the use of cash in the Cuban economy.

New regulations published in early August are intended, wherever possible, to see all Cubans, and state and non-state companies migrate as rapidly as possible to the use of electronic payments. The new policy has the immediate effect that almost everyone requiring cash must now obtain it from banks or from the country’s relatively few serviceable ATMs.

In a statement about the new measures which formally took effect on 3 August, the BCC noted that they are intended to ensure that all future economic transactions become e.commerce based.

Noting that cash operations across Cuba have in recent months grown in greater proportion because of inflationary and other factors, the Bank said that the new measures will be accompanied by improvements in bank access and longer opening hours.

The new policy came against the background of an ongoing liquidity crisis and surging inflation in both the official and unofficial economy. In addition, in addition, in late July and the early part of August there had been a rapid increase in the street rate for the US Dollar and other convertible currencies against the Cuban Peso (CUP) largely caused by non-state enterprises seeking cash to buy convertible currency for inputs, and continuing shortages of food and medicines, requiring Cubans to seek cash to make purchases on the unofficial market (See Cuba below).

Following the announcement, the BCC gazetted Resolution 111/2023 on the bankarisation of operations establishing for all companies a maximum limit of CUP5,000 per operation for cash receipts and payments, with higher value cash payments having to be withdrawn directly from the bank, with priority being given to electronic transfers.

Speaking to the media and on the television programme Mesa Redonda, the BCC’s Vice President, Alberto Quiñones, said that the new measures will be implemented gradually, maintaining equality among all economic actors. Observing that the recently increased use of cash in economic and financial transactions in Cuba had setback banking and financial inclusion, he said they had also resulted in higher costs associated with bank note issuance, transportation, processing, and storage, and increased demand on ATMs. In doing so, Quiñones recognised the deterioration in Cuba’s ATM network and that the service they provided was inefficient in relation to demand.

New measures apply to all  state and non-state enterprises

The BCC resolution makes clear that all collection and payment relationships between all economic actors must be based on the payment methods established by the bank, prioritising the use of electronic channels. It establishes a maximum limit of CUP5,000 per operation for cash collections and payments between companies, MSMEs, self-employed workers, cooperatives, and other forms of management. In addition, the BCC has said that Cuba’s ATM network will no longer service their accounts and will only be able to take cards associated with pensions, savings accounts, salaries, and personal assets.

Analysts suggests that the new measures will slow the growth of Cuba’s independent MSMEs.

Under the new regulations companies requiring cash for their activities can only request it at the bank branches where their current or fiscal accounts are operated, “adjusting to the conditions agreed with the bank and in accordance with operational and fiscal levels,” according to the BCC’s Vice President.

The new measures also require all economic actors contract the services of Cuba’s Transfermóvil or EnZona electronic payment gateways or use Point of Sale (POS) terminals. “These channels allow safer, faster operations” Quiñones said.

Also speaking to the media Julio Pérez, Director General of the BCC, indicated that as in some locations, banks may not yet have the facilities for electronic banking, a grace period of up to six months would exist enabling cash withdrawals in Cuban pesos above the newly established limit for payments to workers.

In subsequent reporting and clarifications, it was explained that the new regulations require cash withdrawals for the payment of salaries, subsidies, and other social security benefits to be made at most three business days before the date payment, and that cash receipts in CUP received by all economic actors must be deposited in a checking account, no later than the next bank business day from the date of receipt.

Granma in its reporting stressed that state companies are also subject to the resolution as are “higher business management organizations; budgeted units; non-agricultural cooperatives; agricultural cooperatives; agricultural producers; individual farmers; commercial fishermen; micro, small and medium enterprises; local development projects; the self-employed; artists and creators; and all modalities of foreign investment and associative forms created under the Associations Law.” It also noted that the new regulations apply to individuals if they carry out legally authorised commercial and service activities.

The official Communist Party publication also wrote that the BCC’s decision had been endorsed by a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers which reportedly said that the measure was “considered a necessary, modern strategy that will benefit the majority of the population.” Ministers noted, however, the need to give “better information to the citizenship, give answers to the concerns and doubts that the population and economic actors have.”  It also quoted Roberto Morales, the Secretary for Organisation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, as observing “the dissatisfaction that exists” and the need for “continuing to report and do so in understandable language.”

Granma additionally indicated that while training was underway in banks to ensure delivery of the new regulations “the challenge is to improve the service, which will not be achieved while the long queues at the banks continue.”

In subsequent explanatory television broadcasts several new points emerged as the BCC, Ministers and other officials sought to allay citizen concerns.

  • The pace of delivery will not only be controlled by the BCC but will involve the participation of all Central State administrative bodies.
  • Implementation will advance only in places where the right conditions exist as many fisherfolk and small farmers live in areas where there is no relevant infrastructure.
  • Companies will be encouraged to offer discounts on payments made by electronic means. An agreed initial 6% limited period discount on digital payments is only intended for customers, consumers, and individuals.
  • Fincimex is prepared to work with any economic actorto install point of sale equipment, but this is subject to availability because of the cost of imported items.
  • Banks and ATMs have extended their hours of operation, but bank staff will require retraining and a change in mentality.
  • The Ministry of Internal Commerce will gradually ensure electronic payments by every state and non-state establishment.
  • The new measures are seen as contributing to a reduction in tax evasion. Cash will only be for minor operations by all companies.  Tax audits will be able to see clear movements in electronically managed accounts.

The gazetted text of the resolution in Spanish is at

Photo: El diario de Cuba

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