Debit Cards Tested in Cuba

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba began a pilot program that will enable citizens to use debit cards in national pesos (CUPs) to buy products in stores that deal in hard-currency “convertible pesos” (CUCs), reports AP.

The measure — which has still not been officially announced — was implemented in the Playa neighborhood at the 3rd and 70th street state-run supermarket, one of the largest in the capital.

This will make it possible for “Cubans to buy in national money, even at higher exchange rates, so that we can purchase a bottle of cooking oil that cost 2.50 CUCs by paying 60 Cuban pesos – which is positive!” said Ernesto Reinosa, a shopper at that store.

A sign was posted announcing the new measure, but no official was available to comment on its scope or whether it might be extended in the future.

To purchase products that are sold only in CUCs, Cubans previously had to go to money exchanges to change currency at a rate of 25 CUPs to 1 CUC. The dual currency situation has been one of the major complaints of the public for years.