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Western Union to suspend money transfers to Cuba

Western Union to suspend money transfers to Cuba

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Western Union, the giant money transfer company, has said that it will suspend its operations in Cuba. The decision has been prompted by the sanction placed on the country by Trump’s administration, which will be in effect from 26th November.

Western Union suspends its operations in Cuba

On 13th November 2020, Western Union announced that it would suspend money transfers from the U.S. to Cuba within the next 10 day. The move resulted from the recent sanction imposed on this communist country by President Trump’s administration.

The U.S. has embargoed Cuba since the era of President John F. Kennedy. The sanction prohibits U.S. companies, or those with business activities in the country, from doing business with entities associated with the Cuban government. In this case, Western Union has been banned from doing business with its partner Fincimex, which is largely controlled by the Cuban military. The embargo, coupled with an ineffective administration, has resulted in an unending economic crisis in Cuba. The situation has been made worse by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As more Cubans struggle to meet their daily needs, mot of them depend on remittances from their relatives abroad. As of 2017, about 2.3 million immigrants of Cuban descent resided in the United States. This population relies on money transfer companies like the Western Union to offer financial assistance to their dependents back home. Remittances to Cuba, especially from Cuban Americans, equate to over $3 billion annually.

Funds sent by the Cubans living abroad are one of the major sources of revenue for the Cuban administration. As such, closure of the over 400 Western Union agents in the country is a huge blow to the government and its people.  

At the moment, Western Union has no other option than to suspend it operations in this Communist island. Thee company has indicated that 22nd November will be the last day for its customers to send emittances to Cuba. Besides, recipients in Cuba are required to pick up their funds on/before 23rd November. The deadlines are the firm’s way of making sure that they warp up their operations in the country before the set law takes effect on 26th November.

Despite the current situation, Western Union is hopeful of better days ahead. In its statement, the firm noted, “Our customers have our commitment that we will continue to explore every possible option to find a solution”. The sentiment is founded on the possible reversal of Trump’s rules by President-elect Joe Biden.

Bitcoin: An alternative to money transfers to Cuba

As the Cubans in the U.S. find alternative means to send remittances back home, Bitcoin’s popularity in the area has increased significantly. Recent data obtained from Google Trends indicates that Cuba ranks second after Nigeria in terms of interest in the cryptocurrency over the past month. More Cubans are considering the crypto route as major money transfer companies like PayPal are yet to start operations in the region.   

Are you in the process of sending money to another country? At MoneyTransfers, we can help you save money by showing you the transaction costs charged by hundreds of companies.

Crispus Nyaga
Crispus Nyaga
Crispus is a financial analyst with over 9 years in the industry. He covers the stock market, forex, equities, and commodities for some of the leading brands. He is also a passionate trader who operates his family account. Crispus lives in Nairobi with his wife and son.