by Terence Zimwara
The Jamaican central bank successfully completed the pilot testing of its central bank digital currency, a statement from the bank has said. The statement however reveals that only one payment service provider participated in the pilot.
The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) recently revealed that it had successfully completed the trial of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). The claim by the BOJ follows the completion of an eight-month test run that commenced in May 2021.
However, in a statement released on the last day of 2021, the BOJ reveals that only one institution participated in the pilot. The statement explains:
The scope of the CBDC pilot was limited to wallet providers who indicated their readiness to participate within the scheduled timeframe. National Commercial Bank [NCB] based on the extent of their experience in the Sandbox came onboard with BOJ to test the range of services to be offered using the CBDC solution.
The statement also explains that the success of the pilot project had been “dependent on whether a CBDC along with the attendant technology solution could be successfully implemented in Jamaica.”
The statement reveals that three activities were completed during the pilot phase. The first of these activities was the minting of $230 million worth of CBDC “to be issued to deposit-taking institutions and authorized payment service providers.” A day after minting the digital currency on August 9, 2021, the BOJ went on to issue $1 million worth of CBDC which was distributed to the bank’s staff.
Next, on October 29, 2021, about $5 million worth of the CBDC was issued to NCB and this marked the first issuance of a CBDC to a deposit-taking institution in Jamaica. After receiving the digital currency, NCB then “successfully onboarded 57 customers which included 4 small merchants and 53 consumers.”
In turn, the 57 customers went on to conduct person-to-person, cash-in and cash-out transactions via “37 accounts and completed transactions with small merchants (local craft jewellers, footwear designers and fashion and garment boutiques) through an NCB-sponsored event, ‘Market on the Lawn’ held earlier in December 2021.”
The statement in the meantime reveals that the national rollout of the CBDC is now scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2022. During this period, NCB — which is the only authorized payment service provider that participated in the test phase — “will continue onboarding existing customers and new customers.” At the same time, two more wallet providers “will be able to order CBDC from BOJ and distribute to their customers.”
Tests to determine the interoperability of transactions between customers of various participating wallet providers will also be undertaken during this period, the statement added.
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Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.
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by Terence Zimwara