The Jamaican government is targeting payments to some workers engaged under the annual christmas work programme through the LYNK® digital wallet.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, who was speaking at the media launch of the LYNK Automated Banking Machine (ABM) cash in and cash out feature at the NCB Atrium in New Kingston on Tuesday, said the intention is to undertake the digital payments as a pilot this year to encourage greater take-up of JAM-DEX, which is the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
Full CBDC implementation is expected to significantly reduce traditional challenges associated with many Jamaicans not having a bank account, while the National Commercial Bank (NCB) offers JAM-DEX through LYNK.
Using the digital wallet will increase efficiency in disbursing funds for Christmas workers and reduce the cost to the government as the LYNK ABM cash in and cash out feature allows persons to add or withdraw funds from the LYNK wallet – whether or not they have a bank account.
Persons can withdraw funds from approximately 300 NCB automated banking machines island-wide.
Clarke said he intends to offer his constituency, St Andrew North Western, as part of the pilot for the digital payments and encouraged other members of parliament to promote the use of LYNK® digital wallet in their respective constituencies.
He noted that the pilot will enable the government to assess the various areas that need to be worked on.
“The government wants to see the digital economy and society take hold because that is the future. There are a lot of transactions that take place today; payments that are cash-based, which is suboptimal,” he said.
“I think of things like some of the work programmes, where people work at Christmas time and they make the place look good… all of those thousands and thousands of people are paid cash.”
“The Prime Minister has stated, as a goal, that eventually, we want that to be paid through the CBDC, which has a number of advantages,” he said.
In addition, through the LYNK app, persons will be able to receive payments using a smartphone, rather than having to go to a bank to cash a cheque.
He also noted that JAM-DEX provides a safe, efficient, and convenient way to pay for goods and services while stating that the necessary work will be done to ensure that consumers and merchants are signed up to utilise the facility.
“We have to do the work upfront to make sure that people are signed up and, importantly, merchants within the space are signed up because it doesn’t make sense to get your CBDC and you can’t use it,” he said.
Clarke added that the Government of Jamaica is intentional in ensuring that financial services are available below Half-Way-Tree.
The Christmas work programme is an employment generation initiative that focuses on the beautification, bushing and maintenance of critical roadways, patching of roads, and drain cleaning. It provides short-term employment to many Jamaicans.