Transfermovil – Bank payments for Cubans

Oct 10, 2020

pic: Gerardo Sánchez @gesanchez

Due to several reasons both the computerization of society and e-banking have arrived in Cuba relatively late compared to other places in the world.

However, the need to provide these electronic services has forced the development of the Transfermovil application.

The technological gap

A few facts to understand this delay:

– Mobile telephones for Cuban citizens did not arrive until 2008. In 2010 and due to high prices there were only one million subscribers (out of eleven million inhabitants).

While other countries are currently starting to deploy 5G, 4G is just taking its first steps in Cuba. Mobile data only began to operate in the island on a stable basis in 2017.

The magnetic cards in the Cuban banking system have only been operating during the last 15 years. The lack Point of Sale (POS) terminals is still a great challenge for the country.

The advantage of centralization

From the modernization of the Cuban banking system and its integration with the telecommunications company ETECSA (the only one operating in the country), Transfermovil was born. An application that unites many services that in other countries are distributed in different platforms.

Transfermovil is an Android app (recently also available for IOS) for cellular network subscribers. In addition to managing many telecommunications services offered by ETECSA it has also integrated modules that connects every user with his bank accounts at Banco Metropolitano (only for Havana), BANDEC (Banco de Crédito y Comercio) and Banco Popular de Ahorro.

Thanks to this integration, Transfermovil users can pay online their utility bills (telephone, electricity, gas, water), their taxes and can also transfer cash between different bank accounts. These payments can be made in Cuban pesos (CUP), Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) or freely convertible currency (USD).

Its use does not depend on mobile data but is handled through totally free and secure USSD messages.

To encourage its use many of the payments for products and services made through Transfermovil are subsidised with discounts which can vary from 3 to 10% of the total amount.

Useful tool

Although at the beginning of this year this application was a toy for technology fanatics and ETECSA’s telecommunications agents, today it is one of the best technological tool in times of pandemic. With the need to stay at home, managing all your banking operations from your mobile phone is more than a convenience: it is an imperative.

While it is true that there is still much to do and the vast majority of physical shops still do not accept payment by mobile phone, online shops like only accept payments with Transfermovil.

More and more Cubans are discovering this application every day and more and more services are being added to it. In its latest version it already allows to check the currency exchange rates, participate in online surveys, request the reprint of magnetic cards, make cash transfers and open accounts in MLC.

Transfermovil is a tool in full development and promises to become essential for banking operations in Cuba.

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