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RBI launches retail Central Bank Digital Currency - (29 Nov 2022)

Banking

The Reserve Bank announces the launch of the first pilot for retail digital Rupee (e₹-R) on December 01, 2022. The first pilot in the Digital Rupee - Wholesale segment (e₹-W) commenced on November 1, 2022. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital form of currency notes issued by a central bank. Based on the usage and the functions performed by the CBDC and considering the different levels of accessibility, CBDC can be demarcated into two broad types viz. general purpose (retail) (CBDC-R) and wholesale (CBDC-W). CBDC-R is potentially available for use by all private sector, non-financial consumers and businesses. In contrast, wholesale CBDCs are designed for restricted access by financial institutions.

The pilot would cover select locations in closed user group (CUG) comprising participating customers and merchants. The e₹-R would be in the form of a digital token that represents legal tender. It would be issued in the same denominations that paper currency and coins are currently issued. It would be distributed through intermediaries, i.e., banks. Users will be able to transact with e₹-R through a digital wallet offered by the participating banks and stored on mobile phones / devices. Transactions can be both Person to Person (P2P) and Person to Merchant (P2M). Payments to merchants can be made using QR codes displayed at merchant locations. The e₹-R would offer features of physical cash like trust, safety and settlement finality. As in the case of cash, it will not earn any interest and can be converted to other forms of money, like deposits with banks.

The pilot will test the robustness of the entire process of digital rupee creation, distribution and retail usage in real time. Different features and applications of the e₹-R token and architecture will be tested in future pilots, based on the learnings from this pilot. Eight banks have been identified for phase-wise participation in this pilot. The first phase will begin with four banks, viz., State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank in four cities across the country. Four more banks, viz., Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank will join this pilot subsequently. The pilot would initially cover four cities, viz., Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar and later extend to Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Shimla. The scope of pilot may be expanded gradually to include more banks, users and locations as needed. CBDC holds a lot of promises by way of ensuring transparency, and low cost of operation among other benefits and the potential to expand the existing payment systems to address the needs of a wider category of users.

Tags : DIGITAL CURRENCY   RETAIL   LAUNCH  

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