Band Kate Chappell
KINGSTON, January 31 (Reuters) – Jamaica will roll out its digital currency nationwide in the first quarter of this year as part of an effort to reduce transaction costs and provide financial services to citizens who do not use banks, Reuters a central bank official.
The Bank of Jamaica said in December it had completed a pilot project that issued 230 million Jamaican dollars ($1.5 million) of the new currency, an effort that follows a similar project launched by a group from Eastern Caribbean countries.
“The majority of Jamaicans are financially excluded,” Natalie Haynes, Bank of Jamaica’s deputy governor for banking and monetary operations and financial market infrastructure, told Reuters in an interview late last week.
“To bring these people into the formal financial system, we decided that central bank digital currency would be a good opportunity.”
Haynes said the bank hopes to replace 5% of Jamaican dollars each year with the new digital currency.
Five million Jamaican dollars ($38,000) was issued to Jamaica’s National Commercial Bank, a private financial institution, and JMD $1 million ($6,000) to Bank of Jamaica employees.
NCB has registered 57 customers to use the new currency, the Bank of Jamaica said.
“It’s a different way to pay and enables easy peer-to-peer transactions,” said John-Matthew Sinclair, chief product officer for TFOB (2021), a subsidiary of NCB.
Customers sign up for a digital wallet, where they can deposit funds in exchange for digital currencies which can then be used in transactions.
The Jamaican digital currency follows a similar program launched last year by a group of Eastern Caribbean countries called DCash.
Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent now use DCash. In 2020, the Bahamas was the first country in the region to issue digital currency.
($1 = 155.8900 Jamaican dollars)
(Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston, editing by Brian Ellsworth in Miami and Tomasz Janowski)
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.