April 19, 2024
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Jamaica’s CBDC Faces Challenges, Determined to Overcome Hurdles

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is steadfast in addressing challenges surrounding the adoption of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), JAM-DEX, launched in 2021. Despite being among the pioneers globally, the Caribbean nation has faced hurdles, with only 190,000 users as of March 2022.

BOJ Governor Richard Byles acknowledged the unique challenges of being a trailblazer, stating, “What we are finding in the roll-out is as we address an issue and move ahead, another one pops up. I guess that’s what you get for being amongst the first.” Byles emphasized the determination to overcome obstacles and highlighted the absence of a predefined roadmap.

One prominent challenge has been the slow merchant adoption, a key factor in boosting CBDC usage. The National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCB) currently serves as the sole facilitator of JAM-DEX transactions through the Lynk wallet. A recent addition to the ecosystem, JN Bank, is set to launch its wallet app soon, contributing to the expansion of CBDC usage.

Natalie Haynes, BOJ’s Deputy Governor for Banking and Currency Operations, identified merchant adoption as a primary obstacle. Larger merchants prefer a streamlined payment process, prompting the exploration of solutions like dynamic QR codes to facilitate JAM-DEX payments through a single point-of-sale machine.

Governor Byles underscored the necessity of transitioning from cash to digital transactions, citing the inherent problems with cash security in the jurisdiction. He stated, “Fundamentally, digitizing is the only solution. All those issues go away with digital transactions, credit cards, debit cards, wallets, CBDC; that’s what we want in this country.”

Despite the challenges, the BOJ remains committed to navigating the complexities of CBDC implementation, recognizing the transformative potential of digital currency in addressing longstanding issues associated with traditional payment methods.

Image by www.slon.pics on Freepik

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