THE path now appears clearer for firms wanting to offer electronic retail payment services, which includes e-money stored in a device such as a mobile phone and SIM card.
The central bank is set to begin accepting applications for authorisation from interested entities on April 2.
The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) said in finalised guidelines for electronic retail payment systems, published this week, that it will begin implementation of a regulatory framework in April. The BOJ is responsibile for the regulation and supervision of clearing and settlement systems in Jamaica. All entities intending to offer electronic retail payment services are subject to the guidelines and are required to apply to the central bank for authorisation before starting operations.
Under the finalised guidelines, all electronic retail payment service providers are required to maintain sufficient capital to support a minimum net worth of US$100,000 or the equivalent in Jamaican dollars, subject to any changes that the bank shall make from time to time, according to the BOJ.
Additionally, retail payment service providers (who collect monies in exchange for value distributed in an electronic retail payment system) are required to pay US$5,000 ($461,000) authorisation fees for the initial application, and US$4,500 for renewals. Agents (representing one or more issuers of an electronic retail payment instrument) are required to pay US$200 for both initial applications and renewal.
Several entities have already submitted proposals to the BOJ for pilot projects. These submissons are being reviewed and the respective entities will be advised of the status during this month, according to the BOJ.
What's more is that the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) could finally roll out its e-payment system to the public. The system has been delayed since last year, when the central bank ordered the league to put a hold on the offering.
The Jamaica Credit Union e-Payment Services (JCUES) system for mobile top-up and bill payment is aimed at the almost one million credit union members islandwide.
Former assistant general manager for strategic development at the JCCUL, Heston Hutton, noted that discussions around the implementation of JCUES are far advanced.
"With the implementation of the so-called payment guidelines, it will basically create the conduits for implementation of solutions similar to JCUES," said Hutton.
"The BOJ's assertions, when they had not endorsed it last year, was that pretty much we had to await the implementation of these guidelines," added Hutton, who was recently appointed managing director of JCCUL subsidiary, Centralized Strategic Services.
The policy positions for the electronic retail payment services were reached after extensive consultations and discussions with stakeholders in the payment services sector, said the BOJ. The National Payments Council, which is chaired by the BOJ, representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, and the Jamaican Bankers Association were some of the stakeholders consulted. The major telecommunications service providers were also engaged in discussions.