Cubas government has said it will recognize – and regulate – cryptocurrencies for payments in the country, with a new decision saying the central bank will allocate blocks to these currencies and outlining how relevant service providers are licensed within Cuba.
Such currencies have grown in popularity among a tech-savvy group in Cuba as dollars have become difficult to use, in part due to the tight embargoes imposed under former President Donald Trump.
The Central American country of El Salvador recently announced that it will recognize the use of cryptocurrency bitcoin as a way to encourage remittances from its citizens living abroad.
The currencies, which can swing wildly up and down in value, are usually independent of any central bank and use widely distributed blockchain computer codes to track remittances.
Because they can be used for long-term, supposedly anonymous transactions, they are often popular with people trying to evade government regulations — likely including US restrictions on sending money to places like Cuba.
The decision states that the central bank can authorize the use of cryptocurrencies “for reasons of social and economic interest” but with the state ensuring that its operations are subject to oversight, and it also explicitly indicated that operations cannot involve illegal activities.
Local cryptocurrency expert, programmer Eric Garcia, said some Cubans are already using such devices, often via gift cards, to buy online.