The Western Union Company (WU), a leader in global payments services, announced today that it will launch remittance services from across the world into Cuba following U.S. regulatory and policy changes that allow Cubans and non-Cubans to send remittances via Western Union to this island nation.
For the first time, Cubans and other citizens worldwide will join their U.S. counterparts to send remittances into Cuba within minutes* using Western Union’s cross-border payments platform. The Company expects to activate services in a phased approach by end of second quarter 2016.
“As the first U.S. Company with scale to move money from across the world to Cuba, we welcome the regulatory and policy changes put in place by the U.S. government that allow us to offer these services,” said Odilon Almeida, President of the Americas and European Union.
Remittances can be sent to family members and other Cuban nationals for family expenses and personal support for private economic activity.
“It is a privilege to connect Cubans from almost anywhere in the world in a matter of moments to their home community, and it is even more historic to be associated with the anticipated economic multiplier that will come with new injection of remittance flows into Cuba,” Almeida lauded.
“As we have found in other parts of the world, expanding remittances will provide a vital opportunity to improve the standard of living for Cuban people, contribute to savings and eventually investment towards small-businesses.”
Funds moved by Western Union go directly from the sender to the receiver with no middle intervention. “This represents a powerful catalyst for empowerment and innovation. Our current movement of remittances from the U.S. to Cuba funds regular expenses and micro businesses, driving entrepreneurism, innovation and employment opportunities,” Almeida explains.
Western Union’s global experience has shown that when customers have formalized and convenient access, remittance flows thrive from established and new corridors. Access to convenient financial services in a globalized financial arena is important to the world’s increasingly mobile-workforce and it has proven to be as important to the economic advancement of a nation.
Remittance senders from across the world can expect the same in-minutes money transfer speed into Cuba with local currency payout. They can use Western Union’s omni-channel send options -- retail, digital, mobile or bank, where available -- to send money, and in Cuba receivers can pick-up their funds from more than 490 Agent locations across each of Cuba’s 16 provinces and 168 municipalities. This is a significant presence and it is represented by multiple classes of trade - from retail stores to exchange houses.
The Cuban population outside of Cuba is pegged at 1.4 million as of 2015. They reside across North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, EU and CIS countries. Nearly 96% are concentrated in five countries including U.S., Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Canada. However, Cubans reside in as many as 72 countries1.
Cash remittances to Cuba in 2013 reached US$2.8 billion with 90% originating from the US. Remittances reach 62% of Cuban households, sustain about 90% of the retail market and provide thousands of jobs.