Jamaica's CBDC isn't even launched yet and the crypto Twitter is already up in arms

Jamaica's CBDC isn't even launched yet and the crypto Twitter is already up in arms
<p>JAM DEX, Jamaica's new central bank digital currency, its logo and tagline have received backlash from crypto Twitter<br></p>BI India/BoJ
  • Jamaica’s central bank intends to call its upcoming digital currency JAM-DEX.
  • The name has drawn flak from crypto Twitter since DEX usually stands for a decentralised exchange — the exact opposite of a CBDC.
  • The centralised digital currency will also have a logo depicting the ackee fruit, which has been criticised as ‘juvenile’.
  • Prime Minister Andrew Holness expects the country’s ‘digital Jamaican dollar’ to launch sometime this year but no date has been specified yet.
Jamaica is on track to launch its new central bank digital currency (CBDC), which was provisionally called the ‘digital Jamaican dollar’. The official name, however, has been deemed JAM-DEX.

While it’s certainly a different route than other countries who have simply labelled their CBDC the electronic or digital version of their normal currency — like India’s digital rupee or China’s digital yuan — not everyone is on board with the initiative.

Crypto Twitter is up in arms about the fact that DEX is a term commonly used for decentralised exchanges. And, a CBDC is anything but decentralised. Moreover, it's a currency, not an exchange.

Netizens are even hitting out at the country’s choice of logo, which is a depiction of Jamaica’s national fruit, the ackee, for being ‘juvenile’. Even the slogan, “no cash, no problem” was not spared from Twitter’s ire.

This is different from many other countries, who are simply calling their CBDC the electronic or digital version of their normal currency, such as China’s digital yuan.


One user claimed they had submitted a better design, while another user complained that local designers were stifled by the judges.

A bad call by Jamaica’s central bank?

The CBDC’s name, tagline and logo were chosen from contest entries received by the central bank, Bank of Jamaica (BoJ).

The bank claims that a panel of five judges examined over 100 entries in each category. The person whose entries were chosen as the CBDC’s name and tagline won a prize of about $3,800. The contest winners received their prizes in August 2021, but the central bank released the details on 18 February 2022.

The bank explains the name choice of JAM-DEX, as being short for ‘Jamaica Digital Exchange’.

The slogan, according to the BoJ, explains that “no problem” evokes Jamaica, and “no cash, no problem” is meant to convey the “ease and worry-free convenience” of using the CBDC in place of conventional cash. However, most see it as drawing a parallel to Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.

Jamaica has great expectations from its CBDC

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed that the country will launch the “digital Jamaican dollar” earlier this month.

Jamaica has already run a CBDC pilot project successfully in 2021, and will become the eighth Caribbean country with a CBDC, once it is rolled out sometime in the first quarter of 2022.

Holness tweeted that the Bank of Jamaica will roll out the CBDC, while also mentioning some of the benefits he expected to gain from such a move – “greater financial inclusion, lower cost of banking, and a foundation for Jamaica’s digital payments architecture.”

Countries are able to state such goals despite CBDCs being inspired by cryptocurrency, because a CBDC is the digital form of a country’s circulating currency, issued by monetary authorities under their control, has the government’s backing as legal tender, and can be used by citizens for day-to-day transactions.

In a mid-January interview with Bloomberg, the Prime Minister had said he expects over 70% of the Jamaican population to use the CBDC within five years. However, he mentioned the initial challenge will be “to figure out how to give people access to digital devices and the internet in general.”

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