Banking in Cuba

banking-in-cuba-banco-metropolitanBanco Metropolitano on the del Prado in Havana.

The current banking system in Cuba is governed by the Banco Central de Cuba (Central Bank of Cuba).  Currently there are nine commercial banks, 15 non-banking financial institutions, 10 representative offices of foreign banks in Cuba, and three representative offices of non-banking financial institutions. *

The representative offices of foreign banks based in Cuba do not work as banks or branches thereof; they are simply responsible for the management and promotion of bank activities carried out by the bank they represent and by the institutions of the Cuban banking system and other national entities.*

Nine commercial banks:

• Banco Nacional de Cuba
• Banco Popular de Ahorro
• Banco de Inversiones, S.A.
• Banco Metropolitano, S.A.
• Banco Internacional de Comercio, S.A.
• Banco Financiero Internacional, S.A.
• Banco de Crédito y Comercio
• Banco Exterior de Cuba
• Banco Industrial de Venezuela-Cuba, S.A.

Fifteen non-banking financial institutions:
• Grupo Nueva Banca, S.A.
• Compañía Fiduciaria, S.A.
• Rafin, S.A.
• Fimel, S.A.
• Cadeca, S.A.
• Corporación Financiera Habana, S.A.
• Fincimex, S.A.
• Finatur, S.A.
• Financiera Iberoamericana, S.A.
• Compania Financiera, S.A.
• Arcaz, S.A.
• Fintur, S.A.
• Gilmar Projet, S.A.
• Servicios de Pago Red, S.A.
• Finexim, S.A.

Ten representative offices of foreign banks in Cuba:
• National Bank of Canada
• Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A.
• Banco Sabadell, S.A.
• Societé Genéralé
• Fransabank SAL
• Bankia, S.A.
• Republic Bank Limited
• BPCE International et Outre-Mer (BPCR IOM)
• Banco the Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

Three representative offices of non-banking financial institutions:
• Fincomex, Ltd.
• Novafin Financiera. S.A.
• Caribbean Tulip Finance Inc-Representative Office*

Canadian banks such as Scotia, and the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) which operated in Cuba before the 1960s have returned to Cuba or are in the negotiation process with Cuba.  Scotia bank has already set up an office in Havana. Focusing on trade finance, the National Bank of Canada (a commercial bank) also operates in Havana. These banks will be well positioned for the future.

US banks are currently less than eager to head to the Island even though there has been a change of tone in US – Cuba relations.  US banks are not rushing in because of the potential exposure to risk and huge fines.  Although Stonegate Bank in Florida is leading the way.

The American government has tried to persuade US banks to move into Cuba to facilitate banking in Cuba, but they are in no hurry to do so.  In the past the US government has heavily fined financial institutions for violating sanction agreements:

… forcing Credit Suisse to pay a $536m settlement for its dealings with Cuba, Iran and others, and then drawing a $8.9bn fine from BNP Paribas last year for working with Sudanese clients…. Also last year M&T Bank, the only institution that had been available to Cuban diplomats in Washington, suspended that service.” News Source

It is still difficult to pay by credit card in Cuba because of the embargo and internet connectivity issues.  Mastercard removed its block on credit cards in Cuba in March, but relying on a MasterCard at the present time is risky because of faulty internet connections found in most hotels and restaurants.

In the meantime, tourists are advised to travel with cash in hand to Cuba until it’s easier to do  banking in Cuba. There are a few ATMs around Havana but there can be problems when trying to use a banking machine.  There are often long lineups, the ATM can run out of cash, or the possibility of the ATM devouring a bank card when the bank is closed is a reality.  If this happens, head over to the CADECA at 257 Obispo in Old Havana to obtain a cash advance on a non-US credit card or exchange money during opening hours of 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

*Source Document: Cuba’s Investor’s Guide

Author: The Editorial Board

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