Google searches on Bitcoin increase in Cuba. As Bitcoin interest is on the increase in the region, Cuba is apparently seeing an influx of Bitcoin (BTC)-related operation. Cuba now ranks second in terms of Bitcoin activity over the past 30 days, according to data from Google Trends. The island nation follows Nigeria, which, since April 2020, has remained as the top country looking for Bitcoin on Google.
The African countries of South Africa, Cameroon and Ghana form the majority of Google’s top five regions looking for Bitcoin. The spike in Bitcoin-related searches in Cuba comes in the midst of news that Cubans are gradually turning to Bitcoin to bypass U.S. sanctions and gain access to digital financial services. As major digital payment firms like PayPal and Stripe are reportedly unavailable for Cuban nationals, the coronavirus pandemic-fueled travel restrictions have made local payments even more complicated.
In late October, a local programmer and YouTuber Erich García called on the nation to use Bitcoin for cross-border remittances, claiming that anyone who wants to send payments to the island should buy Bitcoin and send it through a Cuban crypto exchange called BitRemesas “We do not have access to payment platforms like Stripe, Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, or Union Pay. We do not have access to anything, to any of those resources. What technology has allowed us to dream, see other scenarios? Blockchain and Bitcoin.”
In April 2020, Italian-Cuban entrepreneur Mario Mazzola launched Cuba’s first decentralized Bitcoin exchange, Qbita. According to Mazzola, the new exchange aims to allow Cubans to buy and sell Bitcoin as major crypto services like LocalBitcoins and Paxful are not accessible in the country.
[image: Alexander Kunze]