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Florida bank issues first U.S. credit card for use in Cuba

Staff writer |
Stonegate Bank of Florida will issue the first U.S. credit card for use in Cuba. Its Mastercard, available Wednesday, will let U.S. travelers charge purchases at state-run businesses and a handful of private ones.

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In August last year, Florida-based Stonegate said it will be the first U.S. bank to establish banking relations with Cuba and it could can start providing transactions between the countries in five-six weeks.

In November last year, Stonegate said it is offering a Debit MasterCard that can be used at any of Cuba’s 10,000 hotels, restaurants and other card-accepting merchants.

Until now, Americans have generally had to bring cash to Cuba and change it either at state institutions that impose a 10 percent penalty on the dollar or in informal exchanges with locals.

"This is going to be huge for American companies trying to do business down here," Stonegate president David Seleski said.

The card's utility will be limited for the moment, however. Cuba is preventing cardholders from using them for cash advances. And while the bank says there are 10,000 point-of-sale devices across the island, cashiers in state-owned stores often say they are out of service.

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