Cuba’s First Bitcoin Exchange Launches Despite Restrictions

Entrepreneur Mario Mazzola develops and deploys peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange custom built for Cuba

While crypto is not illegal in Cuba, most businesses keep out of the country due to regulatory uncertainties and US sanctions.

Nevertheless, Italian-Cuban entrepreneur Mazzola developed the country’s first decentralized Bitcoin exchange QBita earlier this month, according to market sources.

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“I created Qbita Exchange because I have always been convinced that here, in Cuba, Bitcoin is a real necessity,” Mazzola told a cryptocurrency news outlet.

He explained that in order for Cuba to catch up to other parts of the world, the country needs tools to buy, sell, use and store Bitcoins easily and safely. “Qbita solves all these problems,” Mazzola claimed.

Qbita wallet

Despite the lack of regulatory framework for crypto, Mazzola launched Bitcoin wallet, Qbita wallet, in November last year.

Qbita wallet is designed to work anywhere in the world, but it is especially meant to meet the needs of data-strapped Cubans.

Its installation only requires roughly 1MB of hard drive space and relatively little bandwidth.

That wallet now supports a built-in peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading platform, allowing its Cuban users to trade BTC from within their wallets in a secure, decentralized manner with full control over their funds.

Little competition in Cuba

According to Mazzola, other Cuban P2P exchanges such as Paxful and LocalBitcoins have similar services but neither of them is particularly good for Cubans as each of them has “a little problem”.

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He said that Paxful is actively blocking Cuba, LocalBitcoins is asking you for KYC, and because of the embargo, this legal requirement is not helping the people of the island, so it’s not available in Cuba.

Qbita works by creating a multi-signature address controlled by the buyer, the seller, and the platform, Mazzola explained.

“If the trade goes well, both the buyer and the seller sign the transaction, which is executed instantly. If something goes wrong, the parties send their evidence to Qbita which signs in favor of the rightful owner, immediately executing the transfer”, he said.

Mazzola noted that, despite initial scepticism, the wallet’s acceptance and popularity as a P2P trading platform has increased considerably.

Since the launch of Qbita exchange, the number of registered downloads has gone up 1,100 from 850, marking a 30% increase in just a week, he added.

Only just starting

Qbita’s growth has come strictly from word of mouth, according to the Cuban entrepreneur.

“We’ve invested zero in advertising,” he said.

And the Qbita developer has only just started. He is currently building a payment gateway for businesses that would like to begin accepting cryptocurrency. The initiative has yet to take flight, he said, because e-commerce is still in its infancy in Cuba.

“I think that in the future we’re going to see fewer people coming to crypto just to make some easy money,” Mazzola said. “We’re going to see more people using Bitcoin for its true purpose: the freedom to move money and to have total control of your funds,” he concluded.

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