Having tested the wholesale usage of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is preparing to conduct the retail pilot of the “digital rupee.” The pilot should launch within a month.
According to the Economic Times of India, the RBI is in the final stage of preparing the rollout of the retail digital rupee pilot. Among the participants are the State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, ICICI Bank, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, and IDFC First Bank. Reportedly, at some point, the pilot is going to include all the commercial banks in the country.
Each bank participating in the trial will test the CBDC among 10,000 to 50,000 users. To integrate the new payment option, the banks will collaborate with PayNearby and Bankit platforms. The CBDC infrastructure will be held by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). As the anonymous source specified to Indian journalists:
“The e-rupee will be stored in a wallet, the denominations will be available as per the customer’s request, just like you request cash from an ATM. Banks are launching this only in select cities.”
Both customers and merchants will have to download the special wallets for the CBDC, although later the RBI plans to fully integrate it with existing digital banking services. Reportedly the digital rupee is intended as a supplement to the current payment system and not its replacement.
The wholesale segment pilot for the digital rupee was launched by RBI on Nov. 1. Its main use case has been the settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities. However, no information on the successful ending of the wholesale pilot is available by press time.