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Can I buy Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Jamaica? The short answer is yes.
An introduction to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading in Jamaica
Jamaica’s reputation as a holiday resort tends to override any other considerations of this sunny island, not least Bitcoin. But the island, along with others in the Caribbean, has increasingly embraced the potential inherent in the crypto space with a government that is willing to back up the development of both crypto and blockchain to boost the country’s fortunes. Naturally enough, the Caribbean Tourism Organization CTO also sees crypto as a valid means of paying for products and services in the tourism industry.
Of course, many small countries see the adoption of crypto in its widest sense as a means of leveling the playing field with richer, more established economies – in fact, the list of countries is long. Jamaica, like many countries in the Caribbean, still has an underdeveloped cryptocurrency regulatory regime with more risks to consumers and investors. Sadly, Jamaica was slated by the financial community for its lack of ability to restrain money laundering and terrorist financing schemes. In 2020, it was blacklisted by the European Union for lacking Anti-Money Laundering protocols. Trading through exchanges has been lightly regulated.
The introduction of the Jamaican digital currency (see below) is expected to improve transaction transparency and help the nation overcome its current AML issues. Way back in 2018, Jamaica’s central bank warned the public against the use of cryptocurrencies but more recently, its government has been much more proactive. Jamaica, in line with the Bahamas, had long considered using its own central bank digital currency as a legal tender and tested such a proposal. The concept came to fruition in 2022 (see below)
The Jamaica Stock exchange (JSE) announced in 2019 that it was about to enable live trading of digital assets in a secure environment. This came after a live-trading pilot was completed successfully. The JSE signed an agreement with the Canadian FinTech company, Blockstation to enable the live trading of security token offerings and digital assets
A Jamaican CBDC
Clearer more integrated regulations about cryptocurrencies are coming in Jamaica and across the Caribbean generally. Such legislation always helps the development of the crypto community in any country. The Caribbean islands are looking to develop their own versions of digital currencies with Jamaica taking the lead. In 2022, the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) launched a legalized CBDC to deliver an alternative to its cash-based economy. The CBDC, amusingly nicknamed the Jam-Dex (Jamaican Digital Exchange), is designed to lower transaction costs while giving that portion of the population without bank accounts much-needed access to financial services.
The JamDex can be used to pay off any debt and serves as a means of exchange and, as a central bank digital currency, it will be a step towards the country’s development of a wider crypto and blockchain economy. The launch put an end to months of speculation and makes it among the first Caribbean nation to issue a CBDC joining China, Nigeria, and the Bahamas.
The Caribbean, generally, is quickly growing to become one of the hotbeds of cryptocurrency innovation globally. However, the regulations of cryptocurrency differ depending on the Caribbean island nations. The Bahamas and Antigua & Barbuda governments have already recognized the vital means of cryptocurrency to boost economic activity, even legal regulations appear to be lagging behind.
Taxes in Jamaica
Bitcoin taxation in Jamaica
Taxation on crypto trading gains is not clear at the moment and although the standard income tax rates start at 23%, individuals are generally liable to income tax at the rate of 25% on their chargeable income not exceeding JMD 6 million per annum. Taxable income over the JMD 6 million per annum threshold is subject to income tax at 30%.
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