UPDATE 1-Western Union says to expand in Cuba

lunes 21 de marzo de 2016 09:38 GYT

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March 21 (Reuters) - Western Union Co said on Monday it would expand in Cuba, at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama started a historic Cuba tour as the two countries attempt to rebuild their bilateral relationship.

Cuba said last week it planned to remove a tax on dollars after Washington relaxed currency restrictions against the Communist-run island.

The U.S. government had said it would allow U.S. banks to process dollar transactions for Cuba as long as neither buyer nor seller are U.S. entities.

Western Union joins a string of U.S. companies that are striking a deal with Cuba.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide on Saturday announced a multimillion-dollar investment in Cuba. The company said it would manage and market two properties in Havana and signed a letter of intent to operate a third.

Priceline Group became the first U.S. online travel agency to make Cuban hotel rooms available to U.S. customers via its subsidiary, Booking.com.

Western Union, the world's largest money-transfer company, expects to start services in a phased approach by the end of the second quarter.

Remittances can be sent to family members and other Cuban nationals for family expenses and personal support for private economic activity, the company said.

Cash remittances to Cuba in 2013 were $2.8 billion with 90 percent originating from the United States, the company said. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)