eCurrency originally partnered with the central bank for its five-month retail CBDC pilot, which started in August last year. Technically JAM-DEX went into production on April 1 this year and the country is working on a national rollout targeting all the banks and payment services providers to adopt it by the end of 2023. In June, legislation was passed making the CBDC legal tender.
Commenting on the eCurrency deal, Bank of Jamaica Deputy Governor, Natalie Hayne said, “JAM-DEX will be a game changer in the country’s digital transformation, by enabling unbanked and underbanked citizens to be a part of the formal financial system thereby enabling access to other financial products.”
Despite 100,000 people receiving a digital currency giveaway on April 1, they can’t do much with the money.
Local news outlet the Jamaica Observer noted that the rollout is going slowly because of a lack of merchant adoption. The key hold-up relates to larger retailers who need to update their Point of Sale (POS) equipment to support the CBDC. ATMs also have to be adapted.
Banks are responsible for onboarding the merchants and have also been slow in take up. So far, the only fully operational bank is the National Commercial Bank (NCB), which has rolled out a wallet for its customers. Jamaica National Bank has been testing a wallet and will likely go live this year.