The Shortage of Banknotes in Cuba Forces Cart Operators To Accept Transfers

The cart operators, in addition to the option of payment by transfer, had something else that is scarce in the eyes of the habaneros in recent times: pumpkin. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 6 June 2023 — Modernity has reached the cart operators, who usually bet on the surroundings of the agricultural market at 17th and K, in Havana – by force, like almost everything. This Tuesday, among onions and bananas, one of the sellers exhibited an unprecedented poster. “Transfer is accepted,” it said, followed by the digits of a bank account.

The shortage of cash on the Island, especially of banknotes, has led merchants like this to look for a solution in banking transactions, although without much success. In the minutes in which this newspaper observed the scene, no one resorted to this form of payment, but it can be expected that there will be demand, if the operator offers it.

At the end of May, the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil, admitted to Parliament that inflation is having among its consequences the lack of cash. The Government lacks money to print more banknotes, and the idea of developing new series with higher denominations that respond to the current high prices is unthinkable in this context.

The minister proposed to the deputies the banking of transactions, which he praised for being a fast, safe and controlled mechanism. However, there are many Cubans who do not even have an account — much less in national currency — due to the distrust of the solvency of the system itself and the devaluation of the currency. Many, too, fear the close control of their funds — sometimes derived from the informal economy — by authorities who are characterized, precisely, by the lack of transparency with which they operate.

To all this is added the poor functioning of the technologies, from the card payment terminals to the Transfermovil and EnZona systems, which were praised this Monday on national television during a discussion on the day’s Roundtable program, dedicated to talking about electronic commerce and online sales.

The cart operator, in addition to the option of payment by transfer, had something more that is scarce in the eyes of the habaneros in recent times: pumpkin. In any case, the prices of all products were, as usual, higher than those of the state agricultural markets.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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