Airbitz Helped Successfully Transfer Bitcoins from the U.S. to Cuba

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by Zhanna Lyasota · 3 min read

Bitcoins have recently been transferred from the United States to Cuba via a public transaction which remains a relatively small step technically, but perhaps a giant leap for technology’s effect on world affairs.

As known, from 1962 until July this year citizens of the United States were prevented by law from transferring assets to Cuba. However, in July this year the U.S. Department of Treasury announced regulatory amendments to the Cuba Sanctions.

According to the agency, depository institutions are permitted to open and maintain correspondent accounts at a financial institution that is a national of Cuba to facilitate the processing of authorized transactions.

Besides, U.S. financial institutions are authorized to enroll merchants and process credit and debit card transactions for travel-related and other transactions consistent with section 515.560 of the CACR. These measures will improve the speed and efficiency of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.

Another piece of good news is that several days ago an American was able to legally and successfully send Bitcoin to Cuba via the secure Airbitz wallet platform.

“It’s about showing Cubans and the Bitcoin community that it is now possible to receive Bitcoin through Nauta, the Cuban state-run public Wi-Fi,” Fernando Villar, BitcoinCuba Founder, commented. “This will hopefully open everyone’s eyes on the possibilities and finally put Cuba on the Bitcoin map.”

“I was taking a personal trip to Cuba to visit family and friends on the island. I asked [CoinStructive CEO] Chris Groshong a few days before my trip, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could send me some Bitcoin from the U.S. to Cuba through the new public Wi-Fi networks?’” Villar explained.

Airbitz is an easy to use, decentralized, open source, secure digital wallet available for iOS and Android. The wallet won first place in the start-up competition this year in New York City at the Inside Bitcoins Conference.

Known for its easy-to-use design, Airbitz also integrates a detailed Bitcoin merchant directory, so mobile users can locate a store and spend Bitcoins on the same application. Airbitz’s decentralized infrastructure has made it one of the most popular Bitcoin wallets on the market.

“The beauty of this occurrence is that as a company, Airbitz had nothing to do with it!” Airbitz CEO Paul Puey commented on the case. “We simply build the best product we can, and both the sender and recipient in Cuba felt that the best option was Airbitz.”

BitcoinCuba believes there is big potential for Bitcoin in Cuba, however Villar remains cautious of the historical hurdles the island nation will have to overcome.

“The future for Bitcoin in Cuba is promising, but it’s going to take some time and effort,” Villar said. “Cubans are only now being connected through public Wi-Fi, which is somewhat cost prohibitive at $2 an hour, with the average Cuban salary about $20 a month.”

The Airbitz team understands the importance of BitcoinCuba’s work on the island.

“From what we have heard, Bitcoin is still barely understood or heard of in Cuba. Knowledge is the biggest issue and we’re happy to see organizations such as make a strong effort to empower their citizens with knowledge about Bitcoin,” Puey said.

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Zhanna Lyasota

Zhanna has a background working for an American multinational food and beverage company as well as at a number of translation agencies serving similar top multinational corporations. She enjoys discovering new cultures as well as learning new languages. She is also a lover of all things fabric and floral ,especially if they are design-related. Zhanna is a graduate of Belarusian State Economic University with a major in Intercultural Business Communications.