How to Get a Licence to Operate a Cambio in Jamaica

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Applying for a licence to operate a Cambio in Jamaica is as easy as filling out an online application form. Meeting the BOJ’s strict requirements is a little more demanding as Jamaica’s Cambio market is not for everyone. The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has clear requirements for anyone wishing to start a Cambio service. Among other things, persons wishing to offer Cambio services must be prudent, be of good character, and have no criminal record.

The BOJ published on its website the full requirements for applying for a licence to operate a Cambio in Jamaica.

Documents required

Applicants for a licence to operate a Cambio in Jamaica must submit the following documents:

  1. Complete an online application form for each Cambio location. The application form can be found at http://www.boj.org.jm/pdf/cambio_application_form.pdf.
  2. A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation. The BOJ will issue Cambio licences only to companies registered to do business in Jamaica. Such companies must have been in business for at least two (2) years.
  3. A copy of the Certificate of Registration of Business Name (where applicable).
  4. Articles of Incorporation or Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company.
  5. Audited financial statements of the company for the previous two (2) years. Note that this requirement is for any company that does not qualify for a waiver under Section 159 (1) of the new Companies’ Act. Under the Act, companies that qualify for a waiver of the requirement to send audited financial statements will be asked to submit unaudited financial statements instead.
  6. A Certified copy of a valid Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC).
  7. A Status letter from the Companies Office of Jamaica. This letter should list the names of directors along with the names and shareholding of all the company’s shareholders. In the case where a major shareholder (who owns 10% or more of the shares in the company) is also a company registered in Jamaica, a status letter from the Companies Office of Jamaica must also be provided for that shareholder (company).
  8. A completed Fit and Proper Questionnaire for each Director, major Shareholder (company or individual having 10% or more in shares), Chief Executive Officer, Compliance Officer of the Company, and Manager(s) for the Cambio location. To complete the Fit and Proper Questionnaire, the applicant must pay the required fees to obtain a Police Clearance Report and a Clearance Report from the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance & the Public Service once instructed to do so by BOJ. The Fit and Proper Questionnaire can be found online at http://www.boj.org.jm/financial_sys/fit_and_proper.php.

Other requirements

Another requirement for BOJ approval to operate a Cambio in Jamaica is that the company applying for a Cambio licence must possess minimum cash of the Jamaica dollar equivalent of USD 25,000 to begin operations of the Cambio. It must also satisfy certain minimum liquidity ratios based on the audited (or unaudited) financial reports provided. Furthermore, the applicant company must submit confirmation in writing from its commercial bank(s) that the bank(s) will authorize the company to operate an account(s) specifically for Cambio operations in the event that the BOJ approves the application.

Companies that are not capable of surrendering cash to the BOJ through a foreign currency account must satisfy the onboarding requirements of the Bank’s Cash Surrender Agent. The BOJ, however, exercises its discretion in approving Cambio services to be delivered through an agent. In the case where the Cambio is to be operated through an Agency Arrangement, each agent must provide the following:

  1. A copy of the Agency Agreement. The Agency Agreement must comply with the Bank of Jamaica’s Guidelines for Agency Agreements for the Operation of a Cambio. The guidelines are provided by the BOJ.
  2. Copy of Certificate of Incorporation/Registration
  3. The company’s Articles of Incorporation
  4. Status letter from the Companies Office of Jamaica listing the names of the directors and the names and shareholding of shareholders(s)
  5. Completed Fit and Proper Questionnaire for each director and major shareholder (those holding 10% or more of the shares of the company (sub-agent)
  6. Certified copy of a valid Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC)

Furthermore, the BOJ requires that applicants for a Cambio licence should possess the capacity to electronically transmit information to it. Also, the central bank will inspect the site of the proposed Cambio to determine whether it is suitable for Cambio operations.

Fees

Applicants for Cambio licences must pay an initial licence fee of USD 3 000 for each application. These fees are not payable at the time of the application but should be paid at the BOJ’s request. Operators must renew their Cambio licences annually. Currently, the renewal fee per location is USD 2 000.

Fees are to be paid in United States Dollars. A Jamaica Dollar equivalent may be paid at the weighted average selling rate that applies on the date payment is made.

Cambio Licence Approvals and Revocations

Applicants should send completed applications to the Cambio and Remittance Licensing and Monitoring Department of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ).

The Bank of Jamaica normally takes approximately 60 business days after application to respond to the applicant on whether it has approved. The central bank, however, reserves the right to deny approval to applications. Such refusal is based on the bank’s internal assessment of the existing scale of foreign exchange dealer service in the area proposed for Cambio operations.

Furthermore, the BOJ will not approve applications for operating Cambios from companies that are already authorized foreign exchange dealers. Also, the bank will not approve applications from companies that own or are owned by, authorized foreign exchange dealers.

In a recent media interview, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Natalie Haynes, also pointed out that the bank can revoke Cambio licences. The main reason for the revocation of a Cambio licence is for non-compliance with the fit and proper assessment of the Bank, as well as for “other egregious infractions” on the part of the Cambio operator. The BOJ publishes the list of Cambio operators whose licences have been revoked or surrendered.

So, are you interested in operating a Cambio service in Jamaica? With all the requirements stated here, can you confirm that you have what it takes to get in the foreign exchange business?

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