President Barack Obama brought along a number of tech companies on his historic trip to Cuba this week, and PayPal was among them. In a recent blog post, PayPal president Dan Schulman wrote that PayPal’s global money transferring service Xoom will hopefully launch in Cuba by the end of the year.
President Obama’s visit to Cuba, the first for a sitting president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928, is the result of the United States re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba last July.
While in Cuba, Schulman and executives from companies such as Priceline, Stripe, and Google’s parent company Alphabet met with Cuban entrepreneurs. Schulman attests the billions of dollars Cuba receives annually from remittances will be Xoom’s entry into the country. Remittances are money sent for goods, services or gifts, the basis of money transferring services such as PayPal’s Venmo and Western Union. Each year, Cuba receives $2 billion in remittances from the United States.
Xoom allows people to send money to one another across the world and have it directly deposited into the recipient’s bank account. PayPal completed its acquisition of Xoom in November 2015 and Schulman described launching Xoom in Cuba as a “natural first step” in the blog post. “Introducing these money transfer services will not only foster financial inclusion,” Schulman wrote “but they can have a positive impact on the day to day quality of life — eliminating long lines and fostering greater choice in this community.”
You have to crawl before you walk, though. In an interview with Bloomberg, Schulman admitted that while trade between the U.S. and Cuba is being discussed, it still has a ways to go. “Both the U.S. government and Cuban government are still establishing the guidelines for exactly how trade is to be conducted.” The U.S. has had an embargo on all trades with Cuba since President Dwight Eisenhower instituted one on October 19, 1960.
PayPal is talking with Cuban authorities and the U.S. Treasury Department to “help expedite” the company’s availability in Cuba. Xoom is currently available in 42 countries around the world.