Bitcoin adoption could increase in Cuba, especially if private companies understand the advantages of accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as currency. This is what Erich García Cruz, a Cuban businessman and defender of Bitcoin, thinks.
Just immigrated to the United States Cruz is a strong advocate of Bitcoin adoption in Cuba. He leads the remittance and money transfer services BitRemesas and QvaPay, and has been an outspoken supporter of Cuban citizens using Bitcoin since 2020.
In an interview with Cointelegraph as part of an upcoming documentary, Cruz explained that Cubans can use Bitcoin “as a tool.”
Although some Cubans use Bitcoin as a store of value, a medium of exchange or a remittance tool, ultimately it is about “getting out of the Matrix,” he explained. Cruz referred to the country’s officially communist, centrally planned economy.
Cuba has no independent press, while the historic US trade embargo makes it very difficult for Cubans to access US products, services and even apps. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is money independent of the State and has no leader or central party.
Cruz explained that during a visit to El Salvador in 2022, one of his friends asked him: “How do you teach about Bitcoin in Cuba if Cuba is run by a communist party?” Surely the party would be against Bitcoin.
“I don’t know if the government doesn’t know how powerful Bitcoin is; they don’t know, and they are just thinking that I am teaching people about the coins in the casino, or if they are afraid of the hyper-Bitcoinization of the Cuban society”.
Cruz hints that the government may already understand how Bitcoin works, and perhaps, “They can circumvent some sanctions around the world” by using internet-based money.
Besides, since 2021, the government has been moving closer to cryptocurrencies as private companies can legally accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for goods and services. Cruz explains that more and more private companies should accept cryptocurrencies instead of the Cuban peso (CUP) or freely convertible currency (MLC):
“If they pay you with CUP or MLC, you are solving the client’s problem, but you are creating a problem for yourself because the owners say that then or later they will try to convert the CLP or MLC into international currency.”
The Cuban peso has devalued more than 800% since its creation. If a Cuban were to buy Bitcoin at its all-time high of $69,000, they would still be worth more in Bitcoin than in pesos. Additionally, MLC is a government-backed stablecoin used for purchases at state-owned supermarkets. Cubans who want to save money tend to do so in US dollars and, increasingly, in Bitcoin.
Cruz shares the example of his father, who bought a small amount of Bitcoin with his pension fund in Cuban pesos three years ago. The pension fund has fallen dramatically in value as the Cuban peso continues to depreciate, while Bitcoin has not only maintained but increased its purchasing power:
“Not financial advice, but it’s better to store your value in Bitcoin than CUP, a government-issued shitcoin.”
However, despite the huge devaluation of the currency, Bitcoin has a bad reputation in Cuba. Cruz was scammed by a crypto project before he knew what Bitcoin is:
“We don’t have internet [en Cuba] up to five years ago, and Bitcoin is 14 years old. The first contact with Bitcoin in our society was through scams.”
Cuba has a highly educated population and university education is free; however, the island is sheltered from Western influences, and the Internet is a relatively new tool. Internet, as Cruz points out, has not started to penetrate the country in a significant way until the last five years.
Cruz’s work, and that of the Cuban Bitcoin community, targets private businesses in Cuba, making it an area where Bitcoin adoption could thrive:
“You have to teach people that they have the power to accept that solution. And that’s the private sector. Well? There is no law. There is no law that prohibits the company from accepting Bitcoin. Not yet”.
Cruz’s interview will appear in an upcoming documentary on Bitcoin in Cuba.
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