In January of 2022, The Central Bank of Jamaica stated that its central bank digital currency [CBDC] pilot had been completed successfully. The Bank of Jamaica plans to launch the system nationwide in the first quarter of 2022.
In order to encourage wider adoption, the first 100,000 Jamaicans who use the country’s new central bank digital currency (CBDC) would receive a free $1000 Jamaican dollar payment.
The new digital currency will be known as Jamaica Digital Exchange, or Jam-Dex for short, according to a report released by the Bank of Jamaica on Feb. 17. It will have its own logo and the phrase “no cash, no problem.” The BOJ anticipates launching the currency as early as next month.
On Thursday, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed the news in a Facebook post. Some Facebook users congratulated Holness for “embracing a digital future,” while others expressed reservations about the Jamaican government’s objectives, accusing Holness of attempting to “bribe” individuals into the federal banking system.
Jamaica geared up for digital currency?
BOJ stated in March 2021 that it was developing a prototype central bank digital currency in its Fintech Regulatory Sandbox with vendor eCurrency Mint Inc. This was followed by the start of an eight-month experiment in May 2021, which finished on December 31, 2021.
The announcement comes after the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) completed an eight-month trial program, with a national rollout planned next month. All Jamaicans with pre-existing bank accounts will be immediately eligible for Jam-Dex digital wallets, according to the BoJ.
According to the Jamaica Observer, around 17% of the Jamaican population does not have access to banking services. While social media users speculate about government motivations, the Observer points out that for poorer Jamaicans, remaining unbanked is both costly and time-consuming. It is believed that, among other things, this new payment incentive will encourage poor and middle-income persons to participate in the national banking system.
In an address to the country’s House of Representatives on March 8th, Jamaican Finance Minister Nigel Clarke stated that for Jam-Dex to be successful, it must be widely adopted by citizens and businesses.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has already pushed out its own CBDC, DCash, to eight different member countries, making the Caribbean a leader in the adoption and proliferation of CBDCs.