The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) has successfully completed its first central bank digital currency (CBDC), targeting a national rollout in the first quarter of 2022.
After proceeding with initial CBDC prototype testing in March 2021, Jamaica’s central bank finished an eight-month-long pilot last Friday, the Jamaica Information Service reported.
As part of the pilot, the BoJ minted 230 million Jamaican dollars ($1.5 million) worth of the CBDC for issuance to deposit-taking institutions and authorized payment service providers on Aug. 9, 2021.
The central bank then issued 1 million JMD ($6,500) worth of digital currency to the staff at BoJ’s banking department. On Oct. 29, the bank also issued 5 million JMD ($32,000) worth of CBDC to the National Commercial Bank (NCB), one of the largest financial institutions in Jamaica.
According to the report, the NCB was the first wallet provider in Jamaica’s CBDC pilot, onboarding 57 customers including four small merchants and 53 consumers. Customers were able to conduct person-to-person, cash-in and cash-out transactions at an NCB-sponsored event in December 2021.
The BoJ now plans to proceed with a nationwide rollout in Q1 2022, expecting to add two new wallet providers. These providers have already been conducting virtual simulation testing and would be able to order CBDC from BoJ and then distribute it to their customers. The central bank also plans to focus on interoperability by testing transactions between customers of different wallet providers, the report notes.
As previously reported, the central bank of Jamaica selected the Irish cryptography security firm eCurrency Mint as the technology provider for its digital currency project in March 2021. The firm is known for being involved in the CBDC development in countries like Senegal. The BoJ previously invited technology providers to submit applications for its CBDC project in July 2020.