Barely a week after the U.S. Treasury Department freed American firms to open accounts with Cuban banks, MasterCard has told its U.S. customers that it will handle their credit card transactions in the communist island.
No U.S. banking services have been available in Cuba until now, but from March 1 MasterCard will be processing its customers’ payments on the island.
MasterCard, based in Purchase, New York, says that cardholders should contact their bank before visiting Cuba to make sure their card will be supported on the island, which is barely 95 miles off the coast of Florida.
The move, according to the Associated Press, affects Americans who travel to Cuba to visit relatives or for a handful of other authorized purposes, including educational visits.
This is the first major breakthrough after the United States lifted ban on trade and travel with the island nation earlier this month. Other U.S. banking service providers, including American Express Co and Visa, are expected to follow MasterCard into Cuba in the near future.
American Express has reportedly stated that it is reviewing guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury in the hope of also allowing card transactions in Cuba.
Meanwhile, another U.S. firm OneSimCard has announced plans to offer voice roaming and text messaging services in Cuba. In a statement issued on Monday, OneSimCard said its charges for roaming service would be half of what the major carriers are charging in the island nation.
Americans wanting to visit Cuba are still reliant on charter flights, although reports emerged recently that the U.S. government is moving closer to allow carriers to run commercial flights to the island.