Following the announcement of an intended pilot program slated for May 2021, Jamaica’s Central Bank has now minted its first batch of the nation’s new official digital currency.

The pilot program, set to run until December this year, will feature the issue of J$230,000,000 (equivalent to around 1,500,00 USD at the time of writing) for deposit-taking institutions and authorised payment service providers.

Over a year in the making, the Jamaican government had been working closely with Ireland-based technology firm eCurrency Mint on the project since early 2020.

The primary impetus behind this move was to transition Jamaica to a digital economy as swiftly as possible in wake of the damage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a formal ceremony conducted in August, Jamaican Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, emphasised the rapid pace at which the digital currency program had progressed, and promised that a legislative amendment to accompany it would be put in place before the end of the current fiscal year.

Following the ceremony, Clarke stated on Twitter:

“CBDC offers a more secure, more efficient form of currency that offers the potential of significantly broadening financial inclusion. Along with national identification, the CBDC will form the foundation of the digital transformation of our society(...)”

Praise was also given by eCurrency CEO, Jonathan Dharmapalan, hailing Jamaica’s CBDC project as the fastest in the world due to the pace of the rollout.