Send remittances to Cuba, four options compared

One of the most sought-after digital services in relation to Cuba is the sending of remittances. According to Google Trends, during the last 12 months, users from different latitudes have been interested in finding the best alternatives to transfer financial aid to families.

The latest enterprise that has publicly announced the possibility of sending money to Cuba is RevoluPay. At the beginning of March, one of its executives presented the service as a novelty: it was based on an electronic wallet (or e-wallet) with different functionalities, among them, the remittance to the archipelago even from the United States.

However, in recent years other companies located in different countries, but with the Cuban market as their goal, have also adopted a business model based on digital wallets. These ventures convert the clients’ money into an internal balance with which the remittance is paid.

In some respects, RevoluPay/RevoluSend, Tropipay and QvaPay/BitRemesas have achieved improvements in relation to the services of TocoPay, the main company that promotes Fincimex under the control of the Gaesa military conglomerate. The improvements are in the delivery time (less than 3-7 days for TocoPay), fees lower than the 15 dollars charged by the state entity and the payment of third-party services.

However, there are also several differences between the three services not officially linked to the Cuban government.

1- MLC Shipping Rates

This is one of the most important points, and the one that focuses the attention of users. Usually, you are always looking for the best service at the cheapest price.

Of the services conceived as a digital wallet, the lowest fee is provided by RevoluPay/RevoluSend, but payment is made only through the RevoluPay wallet available in euros, US dollars, Canadian dollars and British pounds. For every 100 euros deposited in freely convertible currency (MLC) accounts, about 7.48 dollars are charged (figure at the time the note is issued). The money is always sent in euros and when entering the MLC accounts of Cuban banks, it is first changed to national currency and then to dollars, according to the exchange rates for transfers.

Registration on the platform is done with a phone number —it can be Cuban—, but it can be complicated. To manage funds, it is required to validate the account with at least one identification document and a photo, but the user does not obtain a confirmation of approval, so it is necessary to enter the application and verify the status of the request.

The wallet is recharged in several ways: credit/debit card, bank transfer, the Spanish money transfer platform Bizum and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum Y litecoin via RevoluEx (with a 2% tax and only for amounts between 300 and 2,500 euros). Some virtual cards are not accepted, for example, those issued by Moon from the sale of bitcoin.

To send money from a RevoluPay account to Cuba, access the RevoluSend page, enter the remittance data and log in with the RevoluPay account credentials.

RevoluSend invoice screenshot when sending money.

The second best rate is presented by BitRemesas: for about 100 MLC deposited on the card in Cuba, 20 dollars are charged. The commission is not executed in conventional money, but in cryptocurrencies and in the balance of the QvaPay platform.

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Screenshot of Bitremesas when sending money.

One of the highest rates is held by TropiPay. Receiving 100 MLC requires spending around 31 more dollars to be paid by credit card or through the platform’s internal balance. If the transfer is made using the available balance in the user’s account, the website warns that it can be 3% cheaper.

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Screenshot of TropiPay when sending money.

2- Shipping rates in CUP

Although remittance platforms are used on many occasions to send MLC, some also deliver the money in Cuban pesos. However, the currency exchange is made at a rate lower than the representative rate expressed by the touch.

At the time of writing this work, the representative rate of the foreign exchange market in real time established the value of the MLC unit at 107 Cuban pesos. BitRemesas delivered 88 Cuban pesos for each fraction of cryptocurrency equivalent to one dollar.

In the case of TropiPay, the money is sent in euros and deposited in the recipient’s Cuban peso account. In the currency exchange, the current bank rate for the day is taken into account, which generally does not reach 26 Cuban pesos for each euro. As for TocoPay, the remittance is deposited on an AIS card in Cuban pesos at the official exchange rate: 24 Cuban pesos for each dollar or just over 25 pesos for each euro. RevoluPay/RevoluSend does not allow the deposit in Cuban pesos.

3- Reception time

One of the biggest concerns of remittance senders is the time it takes to reach the recipient. Since this is a transfer between two or more financial institutions, they are generally not instantaneous and require the receiving bank to credit the money to the end user’s account.

In the case of Cuba, there does not seem to be a fixed period of time established for the arrival of the money, although there are distinctions.

Since BitRemesas/QvaPay is based on networks peer to peer or point to point for the processing of remittances, in most cases it offers a faster service than the competition. According to information provided in his group on Telegram, the arrival of money occurs, at most, 24 hours after the payment has been made. When transfers take longer than usual, you can report to that group.

TropiPay is the second venture with the least delay in processing remittances. According to information from its official group on Telegram, sending money takes up to three business days to be received, although this time may be extended due to the management of Cuban banks.

Something similar happens with RevoluPay/RevoluSend. Platform users have reported that the money has been delivered within three days, although the bank has taken up to ten days to credit it to the end user’s card, according to Transfermovil records.

4- Additional services

Although the money transfer service is the center of these projects, it is not the only one offered. Entrepreneurship has covered other niches.

The TropiPay platform balance works to, among other options, purchase Amazon gift cards with a specific amount, pay for food delivery orders from AlaMesa and purchase products from Supermarket23. The balance is acquired by different means, among them, bitcoin and international credit/debit cards. Also, the balance can be transferred between users, which can also be considered an additional way of sending money.

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TropiPay is a payment method at Supermarket23.

Although BitRemesas only offers additional telephone recharge services, QvaPay, the digital wallet that serves as one of the startup’s payment methods, has a wide range of services with which it is compatible. For example, the QvaPay (SQP) balance can be used in the Bachecubano store, as well as in businesses based on the Slyk platform, to make purchases on Amazon —via Aeroenvío— and in the Colon Free Zone, Panama. As in the case of TropiPay, the platform balance can be transferred to other users.

In addition, QvaPay offers digital prepaid cards that are accepted in US online stores. Previously, the startup also issued physical MasterCard cards, but the process was discontinued.

Currently, only RevoluPay offers the opportunity to obtain a debit card from Cuba. The user must request it through the mobile application and then receives an email with the rates. However, the activation of the card, once it arrives in Cuba, is a particular process: it is done through the website of Pecunpay, the card manufacturer, and requires inserting a code and a phone number sent by SMS. .

Shipping to Cuba is only available for Havana, via DHL and at a cost of 78 euros (just over 83 dollars), which is deducted from the wallet balance in RevoluPay. Since the touch It was found that the delivery of the cards is done at home in Havana, but it can take up to 90 days from the time the card issuance is paid until it is received by the client. The other shipping modalities decrease in price and time, but require a relative or friend in another country —including the United States—, who will be in charge of delivering the card to Cuba.

Being issued by a non-US institution, the card can be used in the network of stores in MLC, as well as in international e-commerce sites. Through the application, the obtaining of the PIN is managed —essential for payments and cash withdrawals at ATMs—, the balance is added to the card and the transactions carried out can be consulted, among other functionalities. Adding balance from the RevoluPay account to the card has a cost of 2.5 euros (less than 3 dollars), to be deducted from the account balance.

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Screenshot of the RevoluPay application in the prepaid card management section.

It is valid to clarify that, although the card was presented as a direct way of sending money to Cubans, payments in Cuban stores end up in government accounts.

As with QvaPay and TropiPay, RevoluPay users can transfer platform balance to each other. With this balance you can pay for other Internet services such as gift cards, Apple Music and Netflix. The transfer, in addition to being a way of sending remittances, has allowed an incipient sale of balance, given that Cubans within the archipelago do not have their own ways to deposit in RevoluPay accounts.

Despite having been launched several years ago —taking into account that it is the successor to the AIS Remittances platform—, TocoPay, the option promoted by the state-owned company Fincimex, lacks these features. It only allows money to be sent to commercial bank accounts that provide services to citizens and to AIS cards issued by Fincimex itself. In addition, it prohibits the sender and recipient of the remittance from being the same person and requires users to register the beneficiaries, since the company carries out a verification that can take up to three days. User and beneficiary data have been shared with other companies recommended by Fincimex to send money, for example, Grupo Titanes in Spain.

As for AIS cards, a functional website from which the balance can be consulted is not yet available.

The best alternative to TocoPay will always depend on what the user is looking for. Although RevoluPay/RevoluSend has the best rates for sending money, it does not allow transfers to cards in MLC if money is not deposited in your virtual wallet first; Bitremesas/QvaPay has a better delivery time, and; TropiPay balance serves as a payment method to better-stocked grocery stores like Supermarket23. It only remains to choose.

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