Cuba holds business forum on foreign investment: Moves towards electronic payments

Cuba recently held a business forum comprising national and foreign business people to promote foreign investment, part of the national development strategy.

The business forum is expected to develop four panels on foreign capital investment in Cuba which the government announced will protect all entrepreneurs who have interests in the island from threats by the application of the Helms-Burton law, which codifies the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States.

The Cuban Chamber of Commerce organised the event and co-sponsored by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Commission.

Rodrigo Malmierca, minister of foreign trade and investment, noted that, the partnership with the European Commission is developed within the framework of the bilateral political dialogue and co-operation agreement, and prioritises sectors such as renewable energy and food security.

Meantime, the Cuban banking system is moving towards electronic payments, highlighted the increase in the number of magnetic cards issued up to May of this year, which exceeds five million; with a growth of nearly half a million units since 2018.

“In keeping with the country’s policy of computerising itself in favour of the progress of the national economy and the welfare of the people, the Cuban banking system encourages the development of computer infrastructure and easy-to-use services that are beneficial to all, Alberto Quiñones Betancourt, director general of informatics services of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC), said.

Regarding the behaviour of the electronic payment channels in the first months of 2019 (telephone, remote and mobile banking), Quiñones Betancourt said, “the use of mobile banking grew more than seven times with respect to the same period of the previous year, for 830 thousand payment operations.”

With 67,000 transactions, remote banking grew 37 percent compared to 2018, while telephone banking decreases by nine percentage units.

Digitisation lowers the costs of banking activity in the country, favours organisation and internal control while providing users with different options to optimise their time and facilitate the management, Quiñones Betancourt said.

“Among the services that are working to add to mobile banking in 2019 is the recharge of the Nauta account, as well as electronic commerce and payments with the CIMEX Corporation,” he added.

On the other hand, the current challenges are focused on promoting the use of digital payment channels, including the [so-called] Point of Sale Terminals (POS), which reduces the use of cash.

Regarding cybersecurity, he stated that it is one of the main concerns of the Central Bank of Cuba, which is why it works together with national software development companies so that each service is not only efficient but safe for users and banking institutions.

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA Keystone of Computerization in Cuba

The Cuban television show Mesa Redonda, specialized in debates and opinion trends, was recently dedicated to “The Roads of Computerization in Cuba”. Several officials and experts from the Ministry of Computing and Telecommunications in Cuba participated among them was the First Vice Minister, Wilfredo Gonzalez.

In her intervention at the show, Tania Velázquez, Vice-president of ETECSA, reminded the important role of the Cuban telecommunications company in the computerization process, not only with the infrastructure but with the facilitation of services, she pointed out.

She offered a wide report on the achievements in the increase, diversification, and accessibility of these services since the beginning in year 2000 of the Internet access with the prioritized sectors and the boost three years later with the Internet Rooms.

Further on the process of widening the services she specified that in 2013 rates in Internet Rooms was 4.50 CUC per hour, and 0.60 cents for domestic navigation.

For year 2014 access via cell phones to Nauta Mail was introduced thus broadening the reach to more Cubans. That year did not only saw the widening of services to the population, but a drop in the tariff to 70% on the managerial sector because prices were an obstacle for those first steps, she quoted.

She referred that the Nauta mail offered to Cuban citizens in their cell phones at 1 CUC per hour had an important acceptance.

In 2015, ETECSA took an important step with the widening of Wi-Fi spots to wireless Wi-Fi areas, bringing them closer to the neighborhoods. "And when those wireless areas were opened we went from 4.50 CUC per hour to 2 CUC per hour, and the demand went up. Users not only found connections closer, but they also saw well a significant discount".

The vice-president remembered how 2016 was not only particular for continuing with the strategy of diversifying services enlarging Internet rooms and Wi-Fi spots, but also because in that year was ran the pilot test to begin the Nauta Hogar services and were applied tariff discounts up to 1.50 CUC per hour.

The following year the Nauta Hogar offer was broaden and discounts were applied to navigation tariffs, in this case international navigation while it continued the promotion to access to domestic contents.

Year 2018 brought along as important landmark, said Velázquez, the opening of Internet service in cell phones, and also in that year took place a special offer for rural towns in the case of Nauta Hogar.

  

She highlighted that Internet in cell phones was really one of the things that has boosted connectivity in the last few months. “We agree, she added, that people appreciate that it can be cheaper, but in these six months we have had an important use of that service."

The ETECSA official also mentioned the introduction of the 4G technology that not only improves the quality of Internet connection but it also provides a greater level of capacity. In this regard she mentioned that there is already a large number of BTS (Base Transceiver Station) that will continue to increase at some important places like tourist resorts, and economic social sites in general.

She mentioned that in this year the new tariff discount for the corporate sector: a cut down of almost the 50% of all connectivity tariffs, which also accompanies the process of computerization of society.

In her speech she highlighted that "We have already reach 5,5 million mobile lines in Cuba; 2,5 millions of them have data mobile access".

Along with Internet access in mobiles other navigation forms have expanded: by the end of this first semester we will also have a hundred new navigation areas between wired and wireless connections that add up to 1 427 Wi-Fi areas, including those in the neighborhoods, and those on hotels and institutions.

There are at present more than two million Nauta accounts and she expressed that there are more than 87 thousand houses connected by Nauta Hogar. This figure will increase with 40 thousand new Nauta Hogar services this year. Also in companies and institutions connections were increased in about 2 500 for a total of 42 000 connections in the entire managerial system.

As for the topic of mobile access, the vice-president commented that they are working some indicators that allow them a feedback regarding the quality of the service. This allows, she added, to monitor when to make tariff discounts and where to increase BTS, among other actions.

This year 3G BTS have increased in more than 400 and more than sixty 4G BTS. The coverage done so far is substantial in both the population and the territories, but it isn’t enough, she said.

By the end of this first semester nearly 2,5 millions Cubans will have Internet access from their mobiles.

CHOUCAIR TALKS BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH AMBASSADORS OF CUBA, AUSTRIA

Minister of Telecommunications Mohammed Choucair, on Friday received Cuba's Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Pellicer Moraga, with whom he discussed means of bolstering bilateral relations particularly in the economic domain.

Minister Choucair stressed Lebanon's interest in strengthening economic relations with Cuba, emphasizing the need to increase trade exchange between the two countries, notably with the presence of many opportunities.

For his part, Ambassador Pellicer emphasized willingness to take the necessary measures to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation.

Choucair also met with Austrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Marian Werba, with talks reportedly touching on means to enhance bilateral relations.

Choucair underlined the need to bolster economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, in particular facilitating the entry of Lebanese products into Austrian markets.

Choucair spoke about the progress realized in the advancement of the Lebanese telecommunications sector and the possibility of Lebanon benefiting from the experience of Austrian companies in this field.

Ambassador Werba, in turn, emphasized his country's interest in strengthening economic relations with Lebanon.

  • Published in Cuba

Fire Causes Severe Damage to Telecom at the Center of Cuba

Santa Clara, Cuba, Jun 25 (Prensa Latina) A fire reported in one of the venues of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) in this central city causes today severe damages to the coverage of cell phones on the island.

According to a press release issued by the entity, the incident occurred in a technological site of the Telecommunications Center of Villa Clara, which provokes serious damage to the cellular network in the west and center of the country.

The provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus, in the center, as well as the western Pinar del Rio remain totally without cell coverage, ETECSA reported.

In addition, the number of services for mobile phones that begin with 54, 55 and 56 from any region of the country can be affected, according to the telecom company's statement.

Local radio reports point out that the source of the fire has not yet been clarified, which occurred in one of the most central buildings in Santa Clara, the capital of Villa Clara province, some 250 kilometers east of Havana.

At this moment, the causes are being identified and the contingency measures are taken, according to the authorities.

ETECSA will continue to inform the population through the mass media and the usual channels of information, as well as telephones 118 and 52642266, the company points out.

  • Published in Cuba
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