Cuban Banks Now Accepting Russia’s MIR ATM Cards

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Several Cuban banks in Havana have now begun accepting Russia’s MIR payment cards, the equivalent of Visa or Mastercard in Russia or UnionPay in China.

ATMs now display the logo of the Russian payment system and provide an option to withdraw funds from cards issued by Russian banks meaning Russian visitors to the island can access their money held in accounts in Russia. The money is provided in Cuban Pesos, with the Ruble / Peso exchange rate currently about 1 to 1.5.

Russia began direct flights to Cuba in December with the country a popular destination for Russian tourists seeking Caribbean sunshine.  That is leading to a renewed interest in trade, with a Russian trading house opening in Havana and a Special Economic Zone being proposed with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Cuba is an observer nation to the EAEU and is negotiating a potential free trade agreement. Cuban cigars for example are freely available in Russia.

Cuba has a per capita income (PPP) in excess of US$20,000, and a population of some 11.5 million. Over 54,000 Russian tourists visited Cuba in 2022, a figure down from the previous year’s 175,000 but expected now to rebound now Russian tourists ability to access their bank accounts has been restored.

Cuba has been sanctioned by the United States since September 1961.

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