The first 100,000 Jamaicans establishing Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) wallets (accounts) after April 1, will receive a $2,500 deposit from the Government.
This was announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who says this is in a bid to encourage persons to utilise CBDC as an option to conduct transactions.
He was delivering the opening presentation in the 2022/23 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 8), under the theme: ‘Recovery, Reform, Restoration’.
CBDC is a digital form of Central Bank-issued currency, which is legal tender. As a fiat currency, it can be exchanged dollar for dollar with physical cash.
The country’s CBDC is called Jamaica Digital Exchange (JAM-DEX), which households and businesses will be able to utilise.
Its implementation forms part of the Government’s digital transformation of Jamaica’s economy.
Dr. Clarke said following a successful pilot spearheaded by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) between May and December 2021, the national CBDC rollout is scheduled for the beginning of the April to June quarter.
He said a key milestone to be accomplished by the Government and Central Bank during the period, is the tabling of legislation in Parliament to facilitate the BOJ being the sole issuer of JAM-DEX, and for it to be recognised as legal tender.
The Minister advised that four more wallet providers are expected to be onboarded by the BOJ come June, to bring the overall number to five. National Commercial Bank (NCB) was the first institution engaged.
He noted that the larger the network facilitating JAM-DEX, “the more successful… it [will be]”.
Further, that the more corner shops, vendors, and bars that accept JAM-DEX, “is the more useful it becomes and the more widespread its use.”
“We will incentivise corner shops and informal and formal community businesses to establish… electronic wallets and to facilitate payments in JAM-DEX,” he added.
The minister revealed that users can obtain a JAM-DEX wallet automatically if they already have a bank account.
“If you don’t have a bank account, all that is required to set up a JAM-DEX-enabled wallet are simplified Know Your Customer information: name, address, date of birth, tax registration number (TRN), and a valid government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or voter identification card. Of course, once NIDS is fully implemented, this will be accepted,” the Minister added.
Dr. Clarke said consumers will be able to access, download and deploy a mobile wallet app on any mobile device (phone, tablet, or similar device) using the networks of either of the two major telecommunication service providers.
“Customers will be able to top-up their accounts with JAM-DEX through all authorised agents or smart ABMs using physical cash or online and do business using JAM-DEX phone-to-phone with merchants, friends, and family,” he added.