The U.S. Treasury Department (USTD) published a resolution on March 12 extending credit and debit card company licenses, such as Visa and MasterCard, to operate with public banks in Venezuela for an undetermined period of time. This could have the effect of postponing or suspending the creation of an alternative complementary payment-means system by Nicolás Maduro administration, something which the Executive branch has been working on in recent months. New developments on this issue are expected in the coming days.
The resolution authorizes Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Western Union and MoneyGram to operate with the following Venezuelan public banks: Banco de Venezuela, Banco del Tesoro and Banco Bicentenario. The resolution also includes operations with the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV).
It is worth remembering that the Executive branch has been working since mid-2019 to set up an alternative complementary payment means called “Naiguatá”. The government is trying to protect the financial system from the possibility that the companies Visa and Mastercard might have to leave the country in the wake of U.S. trade sanctions. Although the Executive branch is aiming to have this system in place by late March, it is possible that, thanks to the Trump administration’s decision, its entry into force will be delayed or cancelled.