Physical version of Bitcoin on Jamaican Flag

Jamaica on track for Q1 CBDC rollout, central bank says

Jamaica is on track to roll out its central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the first quarter of 2022, a top official at the country’s central bank has claimed. The bank is seeking to increase the number of commercial banks that onboard new users and conduct quality assessments before the rollout.

Jamaica has been ramping up its CBDC efforts recently, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness predicting that three in four Jamaicans will be using the CBDC in five years. The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) kicked off the CBDC pilot in May 2021 and completed it in December, announcing that the national rollout would be in Q1 this year.

According to Natalie Haynes, the BoJ deputy governor in charge of financial markets and currency operations, the Caribbean country is still on course to hit this target.

During the bank’s digital quarterly media briefing, Haynes revealed that the bank is working on three agendas to ensure that the rollout takes place before the end of March. 

The first is increasing the number of deposit-taking institutions that can help onboard new users. Currently, only the National Commercial Bank can onboard new users, and according to the official, it has already brought in 300 merchants, ranging from street vendors to barbers and hairdressers. While the effort is commendable, it’s still not enough, Haynes believes.

“So, hopefully, by the end of this quarter, that DTI will be ready to onboard customers. [But] we need more DTIs to come in so that CBDC can be more widely available to customers,” she stated, as reported by the Jamaica Observer.

The BoJ is also pushing for the amendment of the Bank of Jamaica Act, which will make the CBDC legal tender and designate the BoJ as the sole issuer. Other countries that have made great strides in CBDC development have had to amend their laws as well to accommodate digital currencies.

In China, an amendment that made the digital yuan legal tender also outlawed any other digital currency, with India in line to pass a similar bill that would make the digital rupee legal tender and ban “private cryptocurrencies.”

The central bank is also working on completing its independent third-party quality assurance assessment of the system, with Haynes saying that the bank would make the results of the assessment public.

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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