American Express says sí to Cuba
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD MWHITEFIELD@MIAMIHERALD.COM
01/27/2015 8:15 PM 01/27/2015 8:25 PM
American Express is the latest U.S. company to throw its hat into the
ring and say it plans to do business in Cuba under new regulations
outlined by the Obama administration.
The world’s largest credit card issuer by purchase volume and operator
of the world’s largest travel network provided few details.
“I can’t tell you when our cards will be working in Cuba, but we are
planning to do business in Cuba,” Marina H. Norville, an American
Express vice president, said Tuesday.
MasterCard announced last week that it intended to stop blocking Cuban
transactions on its cards issued by U.S. banks on March 1. It already
has infrastructure set up because MasterCards issued by non-U.S. banks
are accepted in Cuba, generally at state-run hotels and for other
But American Express will be starting from scratch. “We have not had
merchant relations or terminals set up,” said Norville.
The new financial rules are part of President Barack Obama’s initiative
to normalize relations with Cuba.
As a U.S. company, American Express couldn’t do business in Cuba until
the recent changes, which allows American travelers to use debit and
credit cards on the island and also permits U.S. banks to open
correspondent accounts at Cuban financial institutions to process
Norville said American Express’ business activities in Cuba will be
consistent with the new rules outlined by the Treasury Department’s
Office of Foreign Assets Control. “We’re still working on this,” she said.
The New York-based financial services company issues its own American
Express cards but also provides Amex-branded cards issued by other
financial institutions in its network.
Andy Fernandez, who heads the Cuba Action Team/financial services at
Holland & Knight, said that while the new Treasury rules allow American
travelers to use debit and credit cards in Cuba, “it’s still the choice
of U.S. banks whether they want to engage in this activity.”
MasterCard advises travelers to check with the financial institution
issuing their cards to see if they will be supported on the island.
Source: American Express says sí to Cuba | The Miami Herald The Miami