Mumbai- Five more banks will join the pilot on the central bank digital currency or e-rupee for retail customers and the project will be extended to nine additional cities, the Reserve Bank said on Wednesday.

The Reserve Bank, which began piloting the central bank digital currency or e-rupee for retail customers in early December with eight banks in five cities, stressed that it does not want to rush with it but favours a slow and steady adoption.

The retail CBDC is available for only 50,000 users now and of them 5,000 are merchants. The service is being offered on invitation basis by eight banks across five cities now, deputy governor T Rabi Sankar told reporters on Wednesday at the customary post-policy presser.

Given the glitches-free adoption so far, five more banks will be added soon on to the platform along with increasing the number of cities where the pilot service is available now from the present five to nine more, Sankar said.

“Having said on this and the risk of being right, let me just reiterate that we want the process to happen. But we want the process to happen gradually and slowly. We are in no hurry to make something happen very quickly.

“We have our targets in terms of users, in terms of merchants and all that. But we will go through it slowly because we don’t want to do something without actually understanding what the possible impact and that impact can be,” the deputy governor said.

On the volume of transaction, he said it is increasing slowly and so far it has totalled at around Rs 7.7 lakh only.

The RBI on November 1, and December 1, 2022, launched the CBDC for wholesale and retail respectively. While the use case of the wholesale CBDC is limited to the settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities, the retail e-rupee-is being piloted within a closed user group (CUG) comprising participating customers and merchants.

The first phase includes four banks–State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank and subsequently, four banks Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank joined.

The CBDC is expected to make the inter-bank market more efficient and settlements in e-rupee can reduce transaction costs by pre-empting the need for settlement guarantee infrastructure or for collateral to mitigate settlement risk.  (PTI)


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