Ten days without being able to withdraw cash with Visa cards at ATMs in Cuba

Ten days without being able to withdraw cash with Visa cards at ATMs in Cuba

Janice has been going from one ATM to another throughout Havana for ten days. Resident in Madrid, this 42-year-old Cuban woman has not been able to extract cash in Cuban pesos with her Visa card issued by a Spanish bank since the beginning of this month. Like her, other users suffer the same problem, without the authorities deciding on the reasons.

“First I thought it was some error on my Visa card, I checked if I had a balance, I called my Spanish bank and they told me that everything was fine on their part,” explains Janice to 14ymedio. “Later I began to find other people in the queue of the tellers who were having the same difficulty, we called the Central Bank and they did not give us any answer.”

Finally, this Monday and after much insistence, Janice got an answer from Fincimex, the financial company managed by the military that controls the flow of foreign bank cards that operate on the island. “Yes, we have had problems for ten days and no Visa card can be used at ATMs,” explained an employee of the customer service. to the client.

A response similar to that obtained by this newspaper when it contacted the telephone service to report problems at the ATMs. “It is temporary and we are trying to fix it,” replied an employee. “Since the end of October in Cuban ATMs you cannot withdraw cash with those Visa cards issued by foreign banks and that before were used without problems.”

“Later I began to find other people in the queue of the tellers who were having the same difficulty, we called the Central Bank and they did not give us any answer”

Visa cards are not uncommon on the island. In addition to being used by many of the tourists who come to the country, it is common for emigrated relatives residing in Europe or other regions of the world – other than the United States – to apply at their bank a card in the name of the relative in Cuba and that works as a purse.

Recently, facing the opening of borders of the next November 15, the Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos García Granda, spoke with the press and, in one of the images to accompany his presentation, this phrase appeared: “The cards authorized to operate in Cuba are: Visa, Mastercard, AIS, not issued by institutions or banks in the United States or offices of these institutions in other countries “.

“My son puts a little money on me every month on a card that he took out in my name at his BBVA bank in Spain,” says Diana Rosa, a retired person living in Centro Habana. “He puts me 100 euros and I use them to buy in stores in freely convertible currency (MLC) but also to get Cuban pesos from ATMs, the change is very unfavorable but if I have an emergency I go and get cash.”

Since October 30, Diana Rosa has not been able to “get a peso from the ATM and the banks where I have been do not explain anything to me.” After much walking and demanding an answer, they told him that it is only possible to withdraw money with these cards “at the windows of the branches or in the Cadeca that have integrated a POS device (point of sale terminal, also called POS)”.

Something similar happened to an Internet user: “I have walked all over Havana to get money from my Visa and Mastercard cards and no ATM works,” he complained last Wednesday on the Facebook page of the central bank. “Do you have a connection problem or something like that?” The woman asked. “Cuba needs tourism but every day they are worse for us that we leave the money in the country.”

After several investigations, this newspaper detected that this Monday at least five out of seven POS located in banks in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución and Playa were broken, with no connection to the Central Bank to approve the transaction or had problems reading magnetic cards that They are mandatory to use with the PIN and need to be entered from the front of the device.

But the difficulties do not stop there. “I have a Visa debit card that my brother left me the last time he came, it is in his name but since I have the PIN I use it to withdraw some money from the ATMs when I cannot pay for the electricity which is the same. little that is still in Cuban pesos in this country, “says Octavio, a resident of Diez de Octubre.

“To withdraw money with the card at the bank window they require your identity card and the name has to match the one on the card, so they have left me hanging on the brush, because mine says my brother’s name” , the Mint. “How do they do this and they don’t make an advertisement or an apology, in a few days I have to pay for the electricity and they will cut it off if I can’t have this money.”

“How is it explained that a few days before the tourists enter, it is not possible to withdraw cash with the Visa cards that are the most common among the people who come to this country?” Octavio wonders. “I have several acquaintances in the same situation, but people feel sorry to go to the bank and ask, they are afraid of being marked for having a foreign card.”

“To withdraw money with the card at the bank window they require your identity card and the name has to match the one on the card, so they have left me hanging on the brush”

“Something smells bad because it is not understood that something that leaves money to the country and allows foreign currency to suddenly does not work. I went from having a safe way to shore up my retirement to being left without that support. I hope this is not a strategy to force people to have a card in MLC in a Cuban bank “.

In foreign currency stores, Visa cards continue to work to buy, something that further disconcerts customers who cannot understand how they are used to pay in those state-owned businesses, but not to extract cash in Cuban pesos from state-run ATMs. .

Employees of Fincimex they deny that the situation is due to anything other than a “technical problem”. “Do not worry, we are working on solving it as soon as possible,” repeats another customer service employee who acknowledges that “you are the third person who has called this morning on the same issue.”

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