Why has ETECSA limited telephone recharges from Transfermóvil?

transfermovil app cuba

Cuba’s telecommunications monopoly, ETECSA, has limited to two the maximum number of telephone recharge operations that can be carried out from the Transfermóvil payment platform.

At the same time, it has imposed a similar limitation -only two recharges in 24 hours- to operations made from the company’s official website.

The company applied the restrictive measure earlier this week without issuing any statement on the matter.

The news became known after multiple publications and public complaints on social networks from the company’s users.

On Tuesday, July 19, a Facebook user named Héctor Andrés Naranjo Zaldívar criticized the measure adopted by ETECSA in a comment made on one of the company’s publications on its official channel.

Naranjo Zaldívar spoke of the limitation of recharge operations, a situation he considers “inadmissible” and “contrary to the desire of ‘informatization of Society'”, supposedly one of the promises and main line of work of the Cuban telecommunications company.

ETECSA responded to the user tersely, mentioning that the changes are due to adjustments to ensure a better functioning of the platform.

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In turn, other users responded to the official comment and indicated that not informing about the changes is a “lack of respect” to the people who are, in the end, the ones who are obliged to pay for the services of the only telecommunications company in the country.

ETECSA has not responded whether this is a permanent or temporary measure. The company, almost always opaque, has not responded to media outlets that have requested information on the matter.

Why has ETECSA limited Transfermóvil recharges?

For a long time, telephone recharges have been a source of millions of dollars in revenue for Cuba’s only telecommunications company.

However, the economic reforms that brought about the monetary unification – the so-called “Tarea Ordenamiento” – led ETECSA to start charging for some of its services in Cuban pesos.

Due to the current inflation, one U.S. dollar costs more than 100 Cuban pesos in the informal market, while the prices of data packages and other ETECSA services are still referenced on a 1 for 25 scale.

This situation has caused many people to prefer to sell the balance of their MLC cards in the informal market, and then use that balance to buy the data packages marketed by ETECSA.

Inflation and the devaluation of the Cuban peso have taken their toll on the income from foreign recharges, although ETECSA has never provided detailed figures in this regard.

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At present, a recharge from abroad of $20 (including bonuses) is less profitable for the ETECSA user than using that money to exchange it for Cuban pesos in the informal market and use it to recharge the mobile line.

Let us suppose that, according to the latest Cubacel modifications, those 20 dollars recharged from abroad are converted into a triple balance recharge, that is, a total balance of 1500 pesos.

Those same dollars, sold in the informal market, are priced at more than 2000 Cuban pesos, an approximate of more than four combined data packages, of which ETECSA sells at 500 pesos.

The limitation of the number of recharges through Transfermóvil seems to be a first step by the company to rescue the source of income that recharges from abroad have always represented. 

¿How to recharge your cell phone with ETECSA?

This is how things are now: those who want to recharge their mobile line through ETECSA’s services have the following options at their disposal:

  • Recharge through transfer with the Transfermóvil app (with a limit of 2 operations in 24 hours).
  • Recharge through ETECSA’s website (with a limit of 2 operations in 24 hours).
  • Recharge using the services of telecommunications agents.
  • Recharge through the purchase of Cubacel recharge coupons.
  • Recharge directly at the different ETECSA commercial offices in the country.

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