eCurrency Mint Inc. (eCurrency) received the Digital Currency Award in the category of ‘Best Financial Inclusion Initiative in Digital Currency’ at the premier Currency Research’s annual Digital Currency Conference, a gathering of global policymakers, regulators, and technology and innovation experts, held in Mexico City, 17–19 May 2023.
The award recognises eCurrency’s contribution to the Bank of Jamaica Jam-Dex CBDC project that promotes financial inclusion in the digital currency space and provides access to digital currency and related financial services to traditionally underserved or unbanked populations. The judges considered factors such as the impact of the initiative, the reach of the service, and the effectiveness of the implementation.
Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) in partnership with eCurrency completed the CBDC pilot in 2021, legislated CBDC as legal tender in 2022. Jamaica is the first country to achieve its main objective of promoting financial inclusion by rolling out a digital fiat currency authorized and backed by the central bank in 2022. Jam-Dex, the Jamaican central bank digital dollar, is the most exciting project which has created competition and has transformed the way we experience CBDC in the following ways:
Jam-Dex is the first CBDC legal tender in the world. It has the same legal status as physical banknotes and coins.
Jam-Dex is issued using digital bearer instruments and centrally governed distributed databases protected by quantum computing resilience, and hardware and software cryptographic functions. Like a physical banknote, 1) each Jam-Dex bearer instrument has a unique identifier; 2) its integrity can be validated on its own data and security properties, independent of the holders or intermediaries. BOJ may upgrade the security of Jam-Dex periodically, like new series of banknotes.
Jam-Dex is an open infrastructure to which bank and non-bank financial intermediaries integrate their preferred payment platforms and applications to distribute Jam-Dex and provide services to end users using smart phone applications and USSD. Jam-Dex and wallet functions are decoupled so that while BOJ maintains full control of the creation and issuance of Jam-Dex, intermediaries are free to compete in the markets with their business models, user experiences, service features, technology (conventional or web3) and programmable features:
eCurrency provides the core platform for the issuance, validation, settlement of Jam-Dex transfers that are highly secured, quantum computer attack resilient, ultra fast (settlement in 0.3 sec), scalable and available 24x7. This platform then interfaces, via standards-based and secure APIs, with the intermediary payment / wallet systems.
BOJ allows Jam-Dex to be useable for payments in all contexts, so as to not lose the fundamental properties of cash. Jam-Dex allows intermediaries to include programmable functions in their wallet systems and applications such as conditional Jam-Dex transfers. Making money programmable could infringe on end-user privacy.
Jam-Dex is exposureless (without intermediary financial exposure, and BOJ exposure to user privacy data): Jam-Dex is legal tender and holders have direct claims on BOJ liabilities, while the distribution, KYC and usage of Jam-Dex are facilitated and managed by intermediaries. Jam-Dex transfers reach settlement finality immediately between two transacting end users, without any settlement needed between intermediaries. Settlement latency does not degrade with the number of intermediaries, wallets nor transactions.
Government payments have been distributed to beneficiaries (who may or may not have bank accounts) in Jam-Dex via the intermediaries.
Jam-Dex bearer instruments can also be stored in offline devices in the future if BOJ pursues this option. They can be transferred between offline devices. The integrity of the bearer instruments are validated by the devices locally and thus reach settlement finality immediately. Thus Jam-Dex stored in offline devices can be transferred consecutively without pending validation by the online systems.
Jam-Dex supports Jamaica’s digital transformation by enabling every citizen to access fast, secure and reliable digital retail payment mechanisms, deepening financial inclusion, improving efficiency in terms of cost of cash management, offering a socially optimal mix of retail payment instruments and increasing interoperability between existing retail electronic payment systems.
eCurrency was founded in 2011 with a focus on developing a technological CBDC solution that enables central banks to issue digital currency as legal tender. eCurrency started the research and development of the CBDC solution with understanding of the key characteristics of cash and the legal and operational requirements of the central banks to create the technological solution, instead of customizing the solution to a particular existing technology.
eCurrency CBDC solution has been tested in production, pilot and proof of concept environments since 2014 and been the solution has been enhanced based live feedback from the central banks and ecosystem participants.
Information about eCurrency and services is available at www.ecurrency.net and email@example.com.