The bank announced Tuesday that US travelers will be able to use its Mastercard to charge purchases at Cuban state-run businesses and some private businesses, starting June 15. The card's capability will be limited, as Cuba bars cardholders from cash advances, and point-of-sale devices are not always reliable.
"This is going to be huge for American companies trying to do business down here," Stonegate CEO David Seleski said.
For decades nearly all US financial transactions with Cuba were prohibited, due to a US trade embargo. The situation has gradually improved since US President Obama's normalization of ties with the island nation in December 2014. About 100 American individuals and businesses have opened Stonegate accounts, with debit cards authorized to be used for transactions in Cuba.
Although the Obama administration has lifted a block on Cuban government peso-to-dollar transactions, banks still hesitate to process them because of liability fears generated by the remaining trade embargo, which can only be lifted by Congress.