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Internet Comes to Cuba, Will Cubans Comes to Crypto?

Internet Comes to Cuba, Will Cubans Comes to Crypto?

Thursday, 6 December 2018, marks a milestone in the history of Cuba; for the first time, residents will have access to the internet on their mobile phones, potentially to cryptocurrencies also.

With relevant news still breaking, there are no clear answers yet which cryptocurrency exchanges will be accessible in the region, although presumably there will be no firewall restrictions.

Estimates have nearly half of the country’s 11.2 million residents owning mobile phones, although the number that can afford internet access is considerably lower. The state-run telecoms monopoly ETECSA announced two internet packages. The cheapest is a 600 MB, 30-day deal for CUP 7 (Cuban peso worth about USD 0.26), compared to the average state wage which stands at USD 30 per month.

Still, this is an enormous potential for growth of the cryptocurrency industry to enter a new country if citizens are inclined to invest, which may well be the case considering the Communist-led Cuban state is thought to restrict autonomy for people’s economic lives.

One of the reasons the government has restricted access to the internet in the past is its concerns regarding information flows into the country, which it feared could lead to political dissent. This has held the country back significantly in terms of technology. Cuba’s capital city Havana, famous for its vintage American cars, shows just how far this lack of modern resources reaches.

Wi-fi access has slowly been growing across the country in recent years as small modernizations begin to appear, with internet even being offered in a few cybercafes. Mobile phone access gives rise to the opportunity of mobile banking, however, and blockchain-backed wallets.

The quality of the internet service itself and the accessibility of it for the majority of the population is still a big issue, but maybe we will be seeing the first Bitcoin accepted here sign in the city sooner rather than later.

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A Traveler’s Guide: How to See the World With Bitcoin in 2018

After software developer Felix Weiss from Luxembourg attracted worldwide attention two years ago, by traveling the world with Bitcoin at his disposal, Hard Fork asks the question: Has this feat become easier in 2018?

When Weiss left on his world trip in January 2015 Bitcoin had crashed to around $200 per BTC, but started to slowly climb back en-route which he said had helped him to complete his 18-month journey. He said that the easiest country had been the US, particularly San Francisco, where Bitcoin acceptance was widespread around the city.

He struggled in Cuba having to revert to cash. In Asia, he said his cash usage again was high and found a higher degree of Bitcoin acceptance in South America.

Hard Fork’s Neer Varshney researched how this picture might pan out in today’s crypto space by contacting airlines: the first port of call for any travelers. He found that there are multiple airlines accepting cryptocurrency payments including CheapAir.com, who started accepting cryptocurrency payments as far back as 2013. The company now accepts Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash payments.

Other companies offering cryptocurrency booking services included Expedia, BTCtrip.com, Destinia.com, Japan’s Peach Aviation, California’s Surf Air, and Latvia’s airBaltic, and A Bit Sky.

Finding a placed to stay has become even easier as most of these companies also allow you to pay in crypto for accommodation too, although it depends on exactly which part of the world the traveler chooses.

Eating is not quite such a simple affair with limited restaurants and cafes around the globe accepting Bitcoin and other currencies. Although, CoinMap can help travelers find a Bitcoin-accepting venue for the next meal. La Sirene in Manhattan now accepts Bitcoin. Some companies now offer a gift card service which can be used to purchase food coupons for Bitcoin.

Shopping has become easier with many online stores now accepting the popular cryptocurrency, and as revealed in the last week if you land in Brisbane, the International airport there will be welcoming crypto payments in all its terminal shops and cafe’s this year.

The last resort, of course, is to hunt down a Bitcoin ATM. This is good news for the traveler, as there are now over 3000 such ATMs worldwide, and if South America is the list, then Argentina must be a destination for the discerning Bitcoin traveler, with its plan to install 30,000 machines in that country alone. Europe and the US are increasingly installing machines to keep up with customer demand, most machines offering Bitcoin and often a choice of other major digital currencies.

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