The central bank started the pilot project for retail digital rupee (e₹-R) in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar on Thursday and State Bank of India (SBI) is one of the participating banks. The project will later extend to Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna, and Shimla.
Eight banks have been identified for phase-wise participation in the retail pilot of the digital rupee. In the first phase, four banks including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, YES Bank, and IDFC First Bank will take part in the pilot launch along with customers and merchants. Four more banks — Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank will join this pilot subsequently.
“RBI’s pilot project on retail-CBDC is a game changer with lasting effects that should ensure better monetary transmission at much lesser costs. “The anonymity factor is critical for its acceptance. It collaborates, complements and completes the currency architecture in vogue, while also incubating further innovation,” Khare said in a statement.
According to the RBI, the e₹-R is in the form of a digital token that represents legal tender and 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 central bank said while announcing the pilot project on November 29.
The use of digital rupee is also expected to reduce the operational costs related to management of physical currency as well as increase financial inclusion in the economy.
The launch of digital rupee comes almost a month after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) started a pilot in the digital rupee – wholesale on November 1.