LatinNews Daily - 03 March 2023

In brief: Western Union expands remittance services to Cuba

* The US money transfer firm Western Union (WU) has announced a major expansion of its pilot programme providing money transfer services from the US to Cuba. The primary handler of remittances sent to Cuba from abroad, WU was forced to close its Cuba operations in November 2020 following sanctions announced the previous month by former US president Donald Trump (2017-2021) on Western Union’s in-country affiliate, Fincimex – a financial company owned by the Cuban military. However, in May 2022 the current US administration led by President Joe Biden announced an easing of restrictions on remittances. Following the initial test phase of the pilot programme launched on 4 January, which included ‘send service’ from a select group of US retail locations in the Greater Miami area, the WU announced that it had expanded to more than 4,400 retail locations across the US and Puerto Rico, as well as the availability of digital send service from and the Western Union mobile app. WU notes that currently, customers can send money from the US to receivers with bank and debit card accounts at the following banks in Cuba: Banco Popular de Ahorro, Banco Metropolitano S.A. and Banco de Crédito y Comercio (Bandec). WU notes that in order to process transactions to Cuba, it signed an agreement with Orbit S.A. – a new state-run firm authorised by Cuba’s central bank in February 2022 to act as a non-banking financial institution to process money transfers to the island.

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