According to the heads of local cryptocurrency companies, Cuba is seeing an influx of cryptocurrency activity with an apparent lack of relevant regulations in the country.
In early November, Cuba recorded an increase in requests to Google for Bitcoin (BTC), which indicates an increase in cryptocurrency activity in the country. The founders of large local crypto exchanges Qbita and Bitremesas told Cointelegraph that their platforms have become more active in recent months.
Bitremesas creator Eric Garcia told Cointelegraph that the platform has grown steadily this year as it has seen a significant influx of user activity. “Currently, service usage is increasing by 200% every month,” Garcia said.
“The use and volume of bitcoin in Cuba is currently increasing significantly,” said Mario Mazola, founder of Qbita Exchange. According to the CEO, Qbita’s trading volume in October was equal to the total volumes in July, August and September combined.
However, both leaders suggested that the regulatory status of crypto activity in Cuba has yet to be determined. Garcia stated that in the face of regulatory ambiguity, a number of entrepreneurs are turning to crypto:
“[At the moment] the cryptocurrency in Cuba is not regulated, the government does not yet consider these coins to be real money. After that, many entrepreneurs switch their trade to this more powerful world currency. ”
Cubitas Mazzola said Cuba’s cryptocurrency is “completely unregulated,” while the local government has also approved the cryptocurrency as a way around the sanctions. He said:
“In Cuba, cryptocurrency is completely liberalized. It is neither legal nor illegal. […] Moreover, representatives of the Cuban government have pointed out on television several times that the authorities have a positive attitude towards cryptocurrencies because they understand that this is cryptography. This could be a powerful weapon against the US embargo. ”
Since there is no specific legal status for cryptocurrencies in Cuba, the operation of local cryptocurrency exchanges can cause regulatory problems, but the founder of Qbita is confident that local cryptocurrency companies are not in danger since there is no law that explicitly prohibits them from operating. …
“P2P transactions are completely legal because there is no law in Cuba prohibiting people from buying, owning, using and selling bitcoins to anyone else,” Mazola said.
Domestic monetary reforms may be one of the main reasons for the increased interest in cryptocurrencies in Cuba, Mazola said. The Cuban government plans to abandon its dual-currency economic model, abolish the Cuban convertible peso and keep the Cuban peso. Mazola sa:
“The rise in BTC in Cuba is due to the fact that the government recently announced major monetary reforms that include the currency (CUC will leave, CUP will remain) and the devaluation of the CUP against the US dollar. As a result, people use bitcoin to avoid inflation and the negative impact of devaluation on their savings. ”
As previously reported, the growing interest in cryptocurrencies in Cuba is also partly a response to the country’s lack of digital financial services. Large companies like PayPal and Stripe are not offering services to Cuban citizens due to sanctions imposed by the US Foreign Assets Control Office or OFAC.
Cuba’s restrictions on access to financial services apply not only to traditional payment companies, but also to global crypto companies such as Paxful and LocalBitcoins. Jukka Blomberg, director of marketing for the Finnish company LocalBitcoins, said:
“Cuba is on the OFAC sanctions list and we have contractual obligations with some of our partners, which means we cannot work in Cuba. I’m not sure if this will ever change in the future, but unfortunately this is the situation now.