Stonegate Bank in Pompano Beach, Fla., has begun offering a MasterCard debit card for use by U.S. citizens while traveling in Cuba.

The $2.3 billion-asset Stonegate said its MasterCard debit card can be used at 10,000 hotels, restaurants and other merchants in Cuba and will require a signature. Stonegate said it expects to expand the cards to ATMs next year.

"This is the first step in relieving the burden of U.S. travelers carrying cash when traveling to Cuba and another step in normalizing commercial relations between the two countries," Dave Seleski, Stonegate's chief executive, said in a news release Thursday. "Hopefully more issuing banks will help this process by approving credit and debit cards as well."

Stonegate's U.S. customers who travel to Cuba must first confirm they meet the necessary U.S criteria for visiting the country.

MasterCard in March lifted its block on U.S.-issued cards from being used in Cuba. Federal rules allowed each bank to decide if its cardholders would be allowed to use its cards in Cuba.

Stonegate is the first bank to let its cardholders make purchases in Cuba, Seleski said in an email.

Stonegate in May received approval from the U.S. State Department to provide a bank account to the Cuban government, as part of a broader effort to normalize relations between the two countries.

The Obama administration in January allowed U.S. banks to establish correspondent banking relationships in Cuba and to process credit and debit card transactions there.

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