Electronic payment, both by QR code or POS, has been perfected in this 2020. Photo: Abel Padrón/ Cubadebate.

To learn how e-commerce and digital payment processes are developed in the sectors of the food industry and foreign trade, a dialogue was held on Tuesday at the Round Table with Alfredo Almeida, general director of Economy, Organization and Human Resources of the Ministry of Food Industry (Minal); Erenis Beltrán, vice president of the Fishing Industry Business Group and Kenia Parra, general director of Maquimport, of the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

On the progress of digital transformation in the food industry, Alfredo Almeida pointed out that for several years (from 2018-2019), the Ministry of Food Industry and its institutions took the first steps in electronic commerce and digital payment, aligning with regulations of other agencies on the subject. "Banking has come to energize this process," says Almeida.

The food industry includes joint ventures, state-owned enterprises, non-state enterprises, among others. Minal has about 123 entities of the system and about 700 basic units, including basic business units and other institutions. The products and services that the agency provides are oriented to the regulated family basket, the chain of tourism and social consumption, therefore, everything that applies in terms of electronic commerce and electronic payment has to be directed to these activities.

Minal, like other institutions, implements electronic payments. "In this period, 63% of the entities in the sector pay by magnetic card, to some 42,600 workers. We still have around 27,000 workers to be paid in this way," Almeida said.

Similarly, 78% of units, such as fishmongers and bakeries, run retail.

"They all have QR codes. Now it is necessary to demand that it be used, because the percentage of operations that are charged for this mechanism is still insufficient, "said the executive.

Regarding wholesale relations, he noted that 65% of collection operations and 67% of payments are executed through electronic payment channels.

Despite the advances, there are difficulties, such as insufficient training in the use of technology, both in workers and in the population. To alleviate it, a training program and a communication campaign were designed in order to raise people's financial culture, Almeida explained. He also referred to the problems of technological infrastructure.

"Today we do not have all the QR codes for wholesale in all our units, there are 70% of them pending that service."

Ways to incentivise retail payments are also being studied, with bonuses for those who buy through electronic payment channels and remuneration also for those who sell.

As for the extra boxes, Minal does not have the conditions to deploy them in all the municipalities of the country. It is necessary to take into account, then, the peculiarities of each territory, and its needs.

Almeida explained that it is not enough to implement electronic commerce, it is also necessary to develop indicators that measure the efficiency in its use.

"As an organization, the implementation of banking gives us security and transparency in transactions, reducing the use of assets, whenever possible. It also facilitates shortening the chains of defaults, having clear responsibilities in case of inconveniences and contributing to the process of social inclusion carried out by the country, "said the director.

In a second moment of the television space, Erenis Beltrán Sariol, vice president of the Business Group of the Fishing Industry of the Ministry of the Food Industry, recalled that 30 companies and 156 business units are served. "The extractive activity is the most important among the ten we carry out, and although it makes electronic commerce a little more complex, it is not impossible," he said.

When the Fishing Business Group was created, he said, 21 percent of workers were paid by cards (2021).

Currently, 43% receive their salaries in this way.

"46% are on the implementation schedule so that card payment is applied in the last quarter of the month."

On the other hand, he said, where income permits, the extra cash service will be applied so that fishing workers and fishing communities have more facilities to carry out operations.

"Today, of the more than 11,11 workers we have, <>% in the areas where they live if it will be difficult for them to access electronic payments for the moment because their area does not have coverage, there are no ATMs, or any other means. It is being studied because these workers are also entitled to the benefits of banking," said Beltran Sariol.

On the other hand, of the 261 fishmongers and points of sale of the Group, 194 have installed POS, others with QR codes and most accept the payment gateways Transfermóvil and EnZona.

"We have to ensure that by the end of the year 100 percent of these facilities accept electronic payments. In addition, we are studying how to apply a discount to encourage the population."

Banking in foreign trade

On the insertion of Cuban foreign trade in the process of banking, Kenia Parra Hidalgo, general director of Maquimport of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, said that all the transactions that the company carries out today are done digitally, both for the services it provides to non-state forms of management and for the state sector.

"These operations are carried out through the payment gateways Transfermóvil and EnZona. We usually use Metro en Línea, from Banco Metropolitano, and from there we make salary payments and everything related to payments of services, contributions and taxes, "explained the directive who assured that Maquimport does not handle cash in its commercial relations.

Also, in its main point of sale that is located in 19 de Mayo and Ayestarán, they have a POS enabled for customers who wish to pay in that way. "We want to extend it to other points of sale. It is a gradual process but progress is seen in the 14 companies of the Group".

In video, Round Table


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