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The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is looking to commence national rollout of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) – JAM-DEX – at the end of June.
Governor Richard Byles said that the institution is at a point where “we are… ready [to proceed]”.
He was speaking during a ‘Riverside Chat’ panel discussion on digital and cryptocurrency, during the 2022 Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference on Wednesday (June 15).
BOJ Director for Payment Systems and Policy, Mario Griffiths, who also spoke, said the Bank is proceeding with the sole qualified financial institution onboarded to issue digital wallets, which are required to access CBDC – National Commercial Bank (NCB).
The Bank spearheaded the successful CBDC pilot between May and December 2021.
The House of Representatives and Senate recently ratified the Bank of Jamaica (Amendment) Act, 2022, which makes CBDC legal tender locally and enshrines the BOJ as the sole issuer.
Deputy Governor, Natalie Haynes, told journalists during the BOJ’s quarterly media briefing last month that three additional financial institutions were being assessed in the Bank’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox in preparation for distributing CBDC.
She said that these entities are expected to be onboarded by the end of the 2022 calendar year “along with others, hopefully”.
Mr. Griffiths said it is envisioned that JAM-DEX will be utilised mainly on a person-to-person level as well as with micro and small merchants.
“These are merchants [who] have a presence on various websites as well as social media within Jamaica. We are considering the corner shops as well,” he noted.
Mr. Byles pointed out that the targeted merchants still have some work to do to facilitate CBDC transactions, mainly related to the reprogramming and upgrading of point-of-sale machines.
“The Central Bank is… [therefore] waiting on the commercial banks to be in a position to distribute CBDC and to have transactions occurring in the currency,” he said.
Mr. Byles and Mr. Griffiths said the last two years during which the BOJ undertook preparations for the CBDC’s development and implementation, were a “great learning experience”.
Mr. Griffiths noted that there was ongoing collaboration with other regional central banks on the subject.
“So, we have been having those conversations and documenting certain considerations and incorporating that in our model,” he said.
The Bank of Jamaica encourages the public to sign up for a digital wallet to access JAM-DEX, which they assure is “safe, convenient and secure”.
The Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference is being hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in downtown Kingston from June 14 to 16 under the theme ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’.