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Since its beginning, Banco Central de Cuba has paid special attention to the improvement of the payment system in Cuba. In Decree-Law No. 172, of 1997, by which the institution was created, it is granted among its functions, that of to seek for the adequate performance and stability of payment systems and to dictate the rules and provisions accordingly. Within the framework of its functions and taking into account the updating process that payment systems are undergoing in the world, Banco Central de Cuba has set up its strategy on that issue. During the 2000-2001 time period, work was carried out mainly to achieve the objectives defined within that strategy, which are the following:

  1. To continue the updating phase of the current technological infrastructure to enable the complete electronic interconnection of banks and the introduction of electronic means of payment at a greater scale.
  2. To consolidate the use of electronic means of payment.
  3. To implement the use of the inter-bank settlement system.
  4. To achieve gradual increase of clients’ interconnections with their banks to perform payment operations.
  5. To drive commercial banks and the central bank toward a new technological platform of SWIFT.
  6. To establish legal support required for the proper performance of the payment system.
  7. To contribute to improve the collection and payment system of Cuban enterprises.

On the basis of the aforementioned objectives, a great number of activities were developed, of which the most important were the following:

Progress in updating the technological infrastructure, allowing the introduction of electronic means of payment which are becoming increasingly important in the collection and payment relationships among the different entities participating in the Cuban payment system.

At the close of 2001, out of 950 offices, 428 were interconnected to the Data Transmission Public Network, and the country’s network of Automated Teller Machines was broadened over 100 under the RED trade name. The issuance of cards with magnetic bands by Cuban banks totalled 550,000.

The aforementioned facilitated payment of payroll of some working centres as well as payment to a group of beneficiaries from social security through automated teller machines, with the objective of improving this service and minimising, to some extent, the number of people going into banks.

As a new experience, interconnection of selected clients with their banks from their offices was started. At the end of 2001, 2,215 corporate clients were benefiting from this new service.

On the basis of the design approved by the end of 1999 for the inter-bank settlement system, during the 2000-2001 period, work was carried on the gradual programming and introduction of the project.

The basic principles of this system are the following:

  • It is a Gross Settlement System in Real Time.
  • Introduction of the system is progressive foreseeing an initial testing phase between two banks.
  • The remaining subsystems required to conduct operations will coexist with the Gross Settlement System in Real Time.
  • The system will settle operations in national currency and in USD.

Gross settlement systems in real time have been called upon to become the highest aspiration of central banks in the world, with the purpose of achieving fast payment systems, but mainly safe. However, the high cost of its implementation has limited its massive introduction, mainly in countries with lower levels of development in telecommunications.

In doing its best to improve collection and payment relationships as well as to adapt them to changes that have taken place, Banco Central de Cuba has elaborated a systematic study on the evolution and state of accounts receivable among enterprises belonging to a group of selected bodies and has proposed to the Government, for each case, measures to eliminate deficiencies in the payment discipline of the country.

By the end of 1999, the use of internationally known legal documents related to trade transactions were authorised to facilitate and ensure natural development of collections and payments among enterprises of a different kind.

A number of regulations were issued on the execution of collections and payments in national and freely convertible currencies among corporations.

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