- A report from NBC states over 100,000 Cubans are using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
- The adoption of cryptocurrencies was driven largely by mobile internet access which was only provided to Cubans three years ago.
- The need for sovereign monetary technology spawns from sanctions placed against Cuba preventing the use of international standards of money.
Cuba is embracing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in response to burdensome U.S. sanctions, according to a report from NBC News.
There are reportedly 100,000 Cubans currently using cryptocurrencies which is largely thanks to the introduction of mobile internet access that was only provided three years ago. One particular cafe owner named Nelson Rodriguez was interviewed by NBC due to his acceptance of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In explaining what made Rodriguez decide to accept a new form of payment he stated “I like crypto because I believe in the philosophy.”
The philosophy Rodriguez is likely referring to is the idea that money should be sovereign, meaning that it should belong to those who have earned it, and also that money should not intentionally devalue over time. These particular ideals have clashed with both the local government of Cuba, and international sanctions often placed by countries such as the U.S. on Cuba.
PayPal, Revolut, Zelle and many other forms of internationally accepted forms of credit or debit cannot be used by Cubans due to sanctions banning the services. Many institutions such as JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank have reportedly faced multi-million dollar fines for providing services to Cubans.
On April 27, Reuters reported that Cuba was approving cryptocurrency service providers, pending the receipt of a license from the central bank. A teacher at Colombia's Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali and former Cuban central bank economist, Pavel Vidal, reportedly stated:
"If the central bank is creating a cryptocurrency-friendly legal framework, it is because they have already decided that it can bring benefits to the country.”
Alex Gladstein, CSO for the Human Rights Foundation, wrote an article discussing many of the challenges the people of Cuba have endured. During the writing of said article, Gladstein interviewed a son of Cuban exiles and the executive director of the Cuba Study Group, Ricardo Herrero, to discuss the economic impact of sanctions for the Cuban people.
Herrero referred to the embargo placed on Cuba as “the most rigid and expansive sanctions regime towards any society on the planet.”
Cubans are now taking monetary ownership into their own hands.