Thursday, 6 December 2018, marks a milestone in the history of Cuba; for the first time, residents will have access to the internet on their mobile phones, potentially to cryptocurrencies also.
With relevant news still breaking, there are no clear answers yet which cryptocurrency exchanges will be accessible in the region, although presumably there will be no firewall restrictions.
Estimates have nearly half of the country’s 11.2 million residents owning mobile phones, although the number that can afford internet access is considerably lower. The state-run telecoms monopoly ETECSA announced two internet packages. The cheapest is a 600 MB, 30-day deal for CUP 7 (Cuban peso worth about USD 0.26), compared to the average state wage which stands at USD 30 per month.
Still, this is an enormous potential for growth of the cryptocurrency industry to enter a new country if citizens are inclined to invest, which may well be the case considering the Communist-led Cuban state is thought to restrict autonomy for people’s economic lives.
One of the reasons the government has restricted access to the internet in the past is its concerns regarding information flows into the country, which it feared could lead to political dissent. This has held the country back significantly in terms of technology. Cuba’s capital city Havana, famous for its vintage American cars, shows just how far this lack of modern resources reaches.
Wi-fi access has slowly been growing across the country in recent years as small modernizations begin to appear, with internet even being offered in a few cybercafes. Mobile phone access gives rise to the opportunity of mobile banking, however, and blockchain-backed wallets.
The quality of the internet service itself and the accessibility of it for the majority of the population is still a big issue, but maybe we will be seeing the first Bitcoin accepted here sign in the city sooner rather than later.
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