Western Union WU.N will greatly expand a U.S. pilot program for money transfers to Cuba, the company said Thursday, opening retail stores in all 50 states and enabling digital service through its website and mobile app.
The company, which is among the main providers of this type of service in the world, resumed limited transfers to the Caribbean island for the first time in early January, almost three years after the government of former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions that caused its interruption in Cuba.
The initial pilot program was based primarily in the Miami metropolitan area, home to the largest population of Cuban-Americans in the neighboring nation.
The new program, the company said in a statement, now includes 4,400 establishments in the United States and Puerto Rico, and offers multiple digital platforms for those looking to send money to the island.
Remittances have long been a crucial source of income for Cuban families, but the need has become even more acute amid a severe economic crisis due to tightening US sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic, and a sickening tourism industry that he is struggling to recover.
Trump has banned U.S. companies from providing money to Cuba through military-aligned companies identified on the U.S. “Cuba Restricted List,” a list of people and entities that remain on the blacklist and that U.S. companies are prohibited from doing. business.
The administration of President Joe Biden, which has taken small steps to roll back some Trump-era sanctions against Cuba, said last May that remittances could resume as long as they use “electronic payment processors” to prevent funds from going directly to the government. Cuban.
Western Union said on Thursday it had signed an agreement with Orbit SA, a Cuba-based company authorized by the Central Bank of the Caribbean country to process transactions.
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