After the previous administration halted remittances to Cuba in November 2020, millions of Cuban Americans have struggled to find a way to send money to their families on the island.
However, an announcement by Canadian company RevoluGROUP last week eased their worries.
At a press conference in Miami, Emilio Morales, president of the Havana Consulting Group advisory firm and vice president of its U.S. subsidiary, said its new mobile app has added Cuba to its list of more than 100 countries, allowing remittances to beneficiaries on the island.
The system allows digital payments to be made between people who have the application. Similarly, those who have the debit card offered by RevoluGROUP can withdraw money at ATMs affiliated with Visa and Mastercard.
The company said the money transfer service is fully compliant with embargo regulations and followed advice obtained from the Treasury Department.
Although the licensing effort has taken years, the result is a system that “the Cuban military can’t touch,” Morales told the Miami Herald in an interview.
Cuban Americans who want to send money to their families have two options: they can use RevoluPAY, a web-based payment system, or the RevoluPAY application. With RevoluPAY, they can send money to the recipient’s account in MLC, a Cuban digital currency, at one of three Cuban banks: Banco Popular de Ahorro, Banco de Crédito y Comercio and Banco Metropolitano S.A. These banks are not subject to U.S. sanctions.
Morales, who has been tracking remittances to Cuba for several years as president of Havana Consulting Group, estimates that Cuba received about $3 billion in remittances in 2019. Most of that money was captured by a network of military banks, giving the recipient devalued Cuban pesos instead of dollars.
RevoluPAY puts an end to that, Morales said, and also offers Cubans “financial freedom” because the app provides access to a prepaid debit card issued by a foreign bank.
Morales hinted that the Cuban government would get into “big trouble” with Visa, Mastercard and the international banking data system Swift if it rejects the arrival of the transfers, as these are currently three of the island’s main avenues for foreign exchange.