KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says there is no attempt from the Government to remove cash from the system or to create a cashless mandate.
Speaking on May 31 at a digital transformation forum of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at the AC Hotel in Kingston, Holness said that citizens will be able to choose whether they participate in the ongoing digital transformation.
“There is no mandate to be cashless. Just be rational – why would the Government spend billions of dollars to change the currency to a new durable banknote that we don’t have to change ever so often, only to turn around and take it out of the system,” Holness reasoned.
He said Jamaicans must responsibly consume information and reminded them that, “as your Prime Minister, I have a duty to call it out when I see it”.
“We have spent money to put in place a new, durable note that accounts for the inflation in the society [and] the convenience of the notes that you need to make payment, and then to just turn around and say ‘no’?” Holness continued.
He added that while there are concerns about digital currencies, investments continue to be made both in the technology and the currencies themselves and pointed out that some of the threats that exist in digital currency are those that also exist in cash.
Holness said that, instead, focus must be placed on the strength of the country’s laws to protect consumers and not in fear of the technology.
He warned that there is an “unnecessary, unreasonable and dangerous trend” emerging to keep Jamaica from being on the cutting edge of development by spreading misinformation.
Moreover, as the National ID is rolled out, the Prime Minister said that increased focus will be given to the national digital payment infrastructure.
The Central Bank’s digital currency, JAM-DEX, was launched in 2022.
READ: JAM-DEX... finally
“I want to take the opportunity to assure everyone that neither the digital ID nor digital currency will be mandatory. There will be no compulsion to use them. The reason we are implementing these things is to make the lives of citizens easy. If you choose to use them, great to you, if you do not use them, that is your choice,” the Prime Minister reiterated.
Furthermore, he said the digital transformation is not an exchange of convenience for fewer rights and freedoms.
“There will be strong safeguards to ensure that your personal data and information is properly secured and used for the purposes that the citizen has provided it for,” he affirmed.
Holness said that no one will be left behind, pointing out that, “we know that many persons are not digital natives and will require assistance and support in conducting transactions and interfacing with technology, so we have started to put together a strategy as to how we will help those who choose to be involved in this digital transformation”.
He noted that the country’s network of post offices will be used as digital service centres to provide hands-on support for those citizens who need it.