Cubans and bitcoin (BTC): Response to US sanctions

Following US sanctions, more Cubans are currently using bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as a response. They are estimated at 100,000 residents and still growing. The adoption of cryptocurrencies is favored by the access of Cubans to mobile internet, 3 years ago.

Cubans adopt bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to circumvent US sanctions

Birth of Cubans’ need for bitcoin (BTC)

Cubans are hit with heavy US sanctions. They cannot use international monetary standards. The majority of them cannot use their internationally valid debit or credit cards. These include, for example, Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Zelle or Revolution. The use of these various internationally accepted forms of debit or credit is prohibited. Indeed, the sanctions imposed on them prohibit them from these services. Several institutions such as Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan have been hit with multi-million dollar fines. They were sanctioned because they still provided services to Cubans.

Attitude of Cubans towards cryptocurrencies

To cope with the sanctions imposed on Cuba, the country is adopting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Therefore, Cubans, like some café owners, accept payment in ether and bitcoin. The use of cryptocurrencies stems from the need for a sovereign currency. Currently, there are approximately 100,000 businesses using them. One of the reasons for this upsurge is the introduction of mobile internet access three years ago.

Some residents have readily embraced bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because they believe in their ethos. They refer to the fact that money should be sovereign. In other words, the money should belong to those who earned it and it should not intentionally devalue over time. These ideals have clashed with both the Cuban government and the international sanctions imposed on Cuba.

Cuban institutions and bitcoin

As a result of these sanctions, any payment becomes a problem even if the Cuban government has sufficient funds for any purchase. Therefore, the central bank must issue a license in order to be able to make payments. According to the Reuters report, on April 27, Cuba approved cryptocurrency service providers. This, pending receipt of a license from the central bank. The latter could create a legal framework favorable to cryptocurrencies, according to the explanations of a Cuban economist. Indeed, she decided that it would bring benefits to the country.

However, a crypto transaction circumvents both sanctions and anti-money laundering legislation. The central bank bill is not explicit as to how the Cuban government might impose taxes on virtual asset activities.


Cubans have endured many challenges including international sanctions which are considered very rigid. They nevertheless opted to use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to circumvent them. What no one can determine right now is how the United States will react to this Cuban crypto market.

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Emile Stantina

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Cubans and bitcoin (BTC): Response to US sanctions

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