Jamaican central bank leaves Jam-Dex CBDC to early adopters

The first 100,000 Jamaican citizens to use the country’s new central bank digital currency (CBDC) known as Jam-Dex will be given a free $16 payment in hopes of fostering widespread adoption.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness first announced the news in a Facebook post on Thursday. The post received mixed reactions, as some Facebook users praised Holness for “embracing a digital future,” while others expressed concern about the Jamaican government’s rationale, accusing Holness of trying to trick citizens into the federal banking system. “bribe”.

According to the Jamaica Observer, approximately 17% of the Jamaican population currently does not have a bank account. While social media users postulate about the government’s motives, The Observer points out that for poorer Jamaicans it is both costly and time-consuming to go without a bank account. Among other things, it is hoped that this new payment incentive will encourage low- and middle-income citizens to join the national banking system.

The announcement comes as the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) officially completed its eight-month trial program for Jam-Dex on December 31 last year and is expected to complete its national rollout next month. The BoJ further outlined that all Jamaicans with pre-existing bank accounts are automatically eligible for Jam-Dex digital wallets.

Jamaican Treasury Secretary Nigel Clarke said in a speech to the House of Representatives on Wednesday that Jam-Dex must achieve widespread adoption by citizens and their businesses to be successful.

According to the BoJ’s report on Feb. 17, the new digital currency will be called Jamaica Digital Exchange, or Jam-Dex for short, and will come with its own logo and the following tagline: “No cash, no problem.” The BoJ expects the coin to be launched next month.

The name Jam-Dex has been criticized for both technical and aesthetic reasons. While the Jam-Dex may refer to the fact that currencies are “exchanged” and that it is both “digital” and “Jamaican”, the terminology has caused a lot of confusion.

Users on Twitter were quick to point out the obvious misnomer in the currency’s namesake, as Jam-Dex is simply a digital currency, while “DEX” in crypto language refers to a decentralized exchange, a place where cryptocurrencies are bought. and sold.

Despite China being one of the first countries to announce the development of its CBDC, the digital yuan, countries in the Caribbean have quickly become leaders in the adoption and diffusion of CBDCs. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has rolled out its own CBDC, DCash, to eight different member states.

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However, DCash adoption has stalled after a crash on Jan. 14 that took the central bank-backed digital currency offline for nearly two months. It wasn’t until Wednesday before the ECCB announced that DCash was back to full functionality, with the reason for the crash being an “expiring certificate” on the Hyperledger Fabric hosting the DCash ledger.

Numerous other countries around the world are beginning to experiment with the implementation of CBDCs, with the Philippines announcing plans not to launch Project CBDCPh until Tuesday. Iran, Kenya and the European Union are also among the most recent countries to start looking at adopting some form of CBDC.