Cuba's banking system has begun to take steps to help the island's private sector as the process of "updating the economic model" moves forward.
The Cuban banking industry announced this week that its new services would become available via Internet for self-employed workers and private entrepreneurs. That is an option previously reserved only for legal entities.
The facilitation measure was promoted by the People's Savings Bank (BPA) with a view to get closer to the private sector, according to official daily Granma.
The newspaper highlighted that the distance banking service, a practice common in other countries, was made available "almost two months ago" for the sector.
"Emerging economic stakeholders can carry out funds transfers, receive information about the state of their current accounts and check their last 10 transactions," said Greicher La Nuez, director of the BPA's business banking services.
"Now it is easier for them to operate their deposits through a website, which they can access from any part of Cuba," added La Nuez, who added that the BPA is looking to increase these services with new benefits.
"Apart from encouraging bank loans, providing attractive service is fundamental in bringing banks closer to the private sector," as its relations with the financial institutions "are still weak," said La Nuez.
Bank loans were re-introduced on the island in 2011 after four decades, as part of the country's economic reform process. However, they have still not become an important source of funding in the private sector.
Only 5 percent out of the island's half a million self-employed workers have applied for loans from Cuba's public banking industry, according to Granma.
"Since October 2011, when the new process to open up the private sector started in the country, until May 2015, 504,613 people have opted for this new form of employment. This shows the people's acceptance," revealed a recent report from the Ministry for Work and Social Security.
The provinces of Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Camaguey, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba have the highest numbers of people employed in the private sector.
The most popular trades in the private sector continue to be restaurants, cargo and passenger transportation, leasing houses, and telecommunication services, according to the report.