Monday 30 March, 2020

BOJ waives transaction fees for digital payment transfers

File photo shows Bank of Jamaica Governor Richard Byles  (right) and Deputy  Governor Dr Wayne Robinson.

File photo shows Bank of Jamaica Governor Richard Byles (right) and Deputy Governor Dr Wayne Robinson.

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the associated restrictions in movement by the public, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has waived fees for digital payment transfers.

Specifically, transactions using JamClear®-RTGS (Real-time Gross Settlement) through local banks will not attract a fee for the remainder of the month.

The BOJ said it will waive transaction fees associated with all customer payment transactions (Single and Multiple Customer Credit transfers) for an initial period up to March 31.

The central bank said it will advise of any changes to this arrangement at the end of the period.

Also in response to COVID-19, the BOJ said it will adjust its opening hours for over-the-counter transactions effective Wednesday, March 25. 

In this regard, the bank will be open to the public from Monday to Thursday between 9 am and 1.30 pm and from 9 am to 2.30 pm on Fridays, until further notice.

RTGS payments, done individually, are different for automated clearing house payments which are done in batches and take longer.

RTGS payments are transferred to local accounts in a few minutes or up to 24 hours. The cost of using RTGS varies.

Payment schedules released by the BOJ last year show that First Global Bank Limited has no fee for incoming RTGS for personal account holder; while the Scotiabank Jamaica has the highest fee for incoming bank transfers, charging both personal and corporate account holders $385. On the outgoing side, for transfers made online, CitiBank has the lowest rate of $145.63.

Corporate customers may be charged as high as of $2,912.50 for transfers or as low as $145.63 according to the bank involved.

The BOJ said it “anticipates that customers of participating institutions will benefit from this incentive.”

In 2019, JamClear®–RTGS, as indicated in the BOJ’s annual report for the year, processed 1,033,923 transactions (USD and JMD).

The increased system utilisation was reflected in an increase in JMD volume by 13.7 per cent (123,908 transactions) to 1,030,811transactions.

The growth in the JMD volume was largely attributed to an increase in participant payments on behalf of household and corporate clients.

Notably, however, transaction values declined by 44.5 per cent ($18.7 trillion).

The BOJ said the decline largely reflected a reduction of $19.3 trillion in securities settlement transactions initiated from JamClear®-CSD.

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