CBDC in Jamaica

Bank of Jamaica mints and makes $230M of its CBDC available to public

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Jamaica has officially rolled out its central bank digital currency (CBDC). The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) unveiled the CBDC in a recent ceremony, revealing that it had availed $230 million of the digital currency to the public. The bank becomes the latest in the Caribbean to unveil its CBDC, with the Bahamas being the most advanced in the CBDC race in the region.

The CBDC team at the Bank of Jamaica demonstrated the process of minting and distributing the digital Jamaican dollar in an event this week, as The Paypers reports. Finance Minister Nigel Clarke and Bank of Jamaica Governor Richard Byles were among those present at the unveiling, alongside BoJ’s senior management and executives at eCurrency, the technology firm that worked on the CBDC project with the bank.

Clarke acknowledged the need to adjust regulations to accommodate the new reality in digital payments. He further promised that the legislative amendments needed to accompany the CBDC rollout will be in place by the end of the fiscal year.

Clarke further commended the CBDC rollout on social media. He revealed additional details about it as well, including that it would be exchangeable for the physical Jamaican dollar at any institution that’s participating in the bank’s CBDC pilot.

As the bank has stated in the past, the CBDC will be available through most financial and non-financial intermediaries in the Caribbean country.

“CBDC is fully backed by the BOJ and is convertible on a one for one basis with the Jamaican currency. [It] offers a more secure, more efficient form of currency that offers the potential of significantly broadening financial inclusion. Along with National ID, the CBDC will form the foundation of the digital transformation of our society,” he stated.

The BoJ has been working on the CBDC since July last year. As CoinGeek reported, the bank invited local companies to come up with tech solutions for the CBDC as it called on collaboration in the CBDC development.

A year later, the CBDC is complete and Jamaicans can access it at commercial banks, building societies, payment service providers and other such institutions. To use the digital currency, Jamaicans need to install the digital wallet on their phones if they already have a bank account. Those that don’t can open new digital currency accounts, and wallets, at authorized institutions.

According to Natalie Haynes, the deputy governor at the BoJ, the sheer convenience of the CBDC as well as promotion of greater financial inclusion make the CBDC necessary. In a June interview, she further claimed that Jamaica’s financial system would benefit from increases in systemic efficiency, while the BoJ would benefit from the cost-cutting and expansion of the national retail payments system.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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