(Update on a subject of great interest, published on Havana Times)
By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — “What an odyssey to send money to people in Cuba. And the companies don’t even say anything.” This is how someone who regularly sends remittances to Cuba summarizes the situation. There are some new details today which need to be taken into account and therefore I’m writing an update of what was published on Havana Times about the subject in mid-March.
The Cuban government has created a broad network of services at banks, ATMs and other offices in order to receive remittances, however, there are still long lines of people standing in front of Western Union booths every day, waiting to receive their money because of various problems. Different causes for this annoying situation are mentioned between apologies:
- Many offices which offered this service beforehand are now closed.
- The national system has suffered technical mishaps in computer connections.
- Money on deposit runs out because relatively high sums are transferred more and more often, which weren’t normal in the past.
- The amount of cash sent to Cuba via WU has increased significantly.
Only this company, the world’s leader, exceeds 3 billion USD sent per year to Cuba ever since president Obama eliminated restrictions imposed by the Bush administration.
With previous problems still bearing weight, WU isn’t the center of problems linked to sending money to Cuba, a key search phrase to look for alternative websites to make transfers, which have some advantages compared to the abovementioned company has:
- Money can reach the beneficiary directly, provided on a AIS debit card which is issued by the national FINCIMEX company, exclusively reserved for every customer. Credit becomes cash at ATMs.
- There aren’t any commission charges on this end, if the sender wanted their friend, relative or other recipient in Cuba to receive 100 Convertible Pesos (CUC), the person in question would receive those 100 CUC, which is generally available 24 hours after the sender presses the last click, although regulations stipulate it can take up to 72 hours.
Great, right? Let’s take a look at an example of the discrepancy that exists between what is said and reality:
Are you looking for a money sending service to Cuba which really works? Are you fed up of finding contradictory information on the internet to finally discover that you can’t send money to Cuba, to your loved ones? Are you having a hard time finding a service which seems trustworthy? With Fonmoney you’ll find a decent solution.
Have we finally found the solution to these efforts? The following answer from a British man trying to help his Cuban friend, in Spanglish, sheds some light for us:
“Fonmoney say to me:
According to the law, you can only send money to relatives.
Amigo is not an Option.
I cannot send Money right now.”
A pathetic mistake, the specification is out of place because the “relatives” clause corresponds to a law in vigor in the United States only, which has existed for over a decade. But today, they don’t even apply this law in the US!
Fonmoney not being up-to-date doesn’t do away with this mess, another customer offers new insight. It relates to www.aisremesascuba.com, a company which is directly linked to how the abovementioned cards are used, which are issued by FINCIMEX, an organization which is responsible for controlling transfers made in national territory:
“Aisremesascuba is always a problem. The registration process is complicated and when you have questions, you can be sure you’ll never get an answer. After registering, you can make a transfer. Two weeks later though, the webpage to start a transfer never appeared again.”
Searching and searching, other websites come up, including www.smallworldfs.com, Cash2cuban, Transferzero or Sendvalu, but… there is always a “but”, you can also run into this message:
Dear customer. Services to Cuba are still suspended. Unfortunately, we don’t have a set date for when these services will resume. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. (Copied on May 15th 2018).
Alternatively, you can read information published in online media:
“In 2016, remittances sent to the island marked a historic milestone with 3.45 billion USD, according to a study carried out by The Havana Consulting Group (THCG), based in Miami. Experts estimate that overall cash remittances were approximately 4 billion in 2017.”
THCG’s analysis, confirmed by CEPAL and other economists living in Cuba, point out that these cash remittances figure among the country’s top two sources of net income of hard currency, along with exporting its workforce.
Western Union has expanded its services to Cuba, which can now be used from many countries, using mobile phones even with an apk app, according to what Odilon Almeida, the US multinational company’s president for the Americas and Europe, has just verified.
The Havana Consulting Group used conservative figures when it calculated that remittances are three times Cubans’ average annual salary according to official statistics.
Until today, the government hasn’t made any formal declaration about processing and receiving cash remittances here in Cuba.
Vicente Morin Aguado [email protected]