Head of the Financial Institutions Supervisory Division of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Dr Jide Lewis, says stakeholder discussions are underway to establish a regulated local cryptocurrency system here.

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or cryptocurrency can be used to purchase goods and services. Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are the most popular versions utilised.

“That [cryptocurrency introduction] is certainly an area that the Bank will be engaging with the Financial Services Commission, to ensure that the framework is fit for purpose. Those discussions have started and will continue, and work for the ecosystem to be built out… will continue,” Dr Lewis said.

Head of the Financial Institutions Supervisory Division of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Dr Jide Lewis

The digital forum was co-hosted by the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) and Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS), under the theme ‘Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) Governing in a Digital Space’.

Dr Lewis said that in pursuing the institution of cryptocurrency, it is imperative to recognise that while interests will seek to tap into and maximise the benefits that a vibrant supporting framework will provide, there is need to ensure that “we are not increasing opaqueness of financial transactions” that could prove challenging for some persons.

He emphasized that the BOJ is “always willing” to partner with other regulators in the financial space.

Dr Lewis said the Central Bank has demonstrated this through some of the initiatives in which it has engaged.

One example, he noted, relates to how liquidity is embraced in the local financial system, “and embracing the fact that those innovations allow for a broader range of financial instruments to be included in what is considered a high-quality liquid asset”.

“That’s something that we [BOJ] have rolled out in partnership with the FSC, and discussions and engagements with the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) have certainly sought to provide that,” Dr Lewis added.

The BOJ embarking on facilitating a cryptocurrency framework for Jamaica is in keeping with the Bank’s commitment to developing a retail infrastructure and piloting the country’s transition to a digital economy that enables consumers to conveniently make and receive payments, any time and any place.

For deposit-taking institutions, CBDC presents an opportunity to improve cash management processes and costs.

The Bank assured, however, that it will continue to issue banknotes and coins to facilitate all economic activities.