The RBI’s reply, in response to an RTI filed by Inc42, indicates that it issued retail e₹-R worth INR 1.02 Cr in phase II of the pilot while expanding it to eight banks from four banks
On wholesale CBDC pilot, the central bank said that total transactions stood at 1,329 as on February 3, 2023
The retail CBDC pilot is expected to be soon extended to cities like Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Shimla
The total retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) or retail digital rupee (e₹-R) in circulation stood at INR 2.73 Cr as on February 3, 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in response to an RTI query raised by Inc42.
The central bank began the retail digital rupee pilot on December 1, 2022 by issuing CBDC worth INR 1.71 Cr to four participating banks. The RBI’s response to the RTI indicates that it issued INR 1.02 Cr of e₹-R in phase II while expanding the retail pilot to eight banks from four earlier.
Responding to the RTI, the central bank also said that the total number of e₹ wholesale transactions stood at 1,329 as on February 3.
It must be noted that the RBI began the pilot for wholesale CBDC on November 1, a month before the launch of the retail CBDC pilot.
Talking about retail digital rupee, RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Shankar said last month, “In retail CBDC, there are more than 50,000 users now and over 5,000 merchants. There are eight banks that are facilitating this. We are planning to add five more banks. Over time, we plan to extend this to all major banks. There are five cities in which it is being done now. We are going to add another nine cities, and we will be increasing that gradually. The total number of transactions was roughly around 7,70,000.”
Currently, SBI, ICICI Bank, IDFC First Bank, YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, and HDFC Bank are offering retail CBDC services to select users.
Five more banks – Axis bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank, Federal Bank, and IndusInd Bank – are expected to join digital rupee’s retail pilot in the next three months, Inc42 reported earlier.
The RBI kickstarted the pilot for retail digital rupee with four banks in December – State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank across Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar.
As part of Phase II, the pilot is soon expected to be extended to other cities including Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Shimla.
On the comparatively slow speed of the pilot, Shankar earlier said, “We want the process to happen gradually and slowly.”
Emphasising the need to move slowly on the pilot, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das also said in January that the central bank was piloting the digital rupee ‘very carefully and cautiously’ due to concerns such as cloning, which can be ‘very risky’.
Currently, banks are shortlisting users based on their location and through invite only. Each participating bank is expected to pilot e₹-R among 10,000 to 50,000 users.
The RBI has not come up with any timeline for expanding the pilot, and the plan is to go slow in order to fix the bugs as and when they come.
Meanwhile, the Centre is pushing for global cryptocurrency regulations and is aiming to reach a consensus on it during India’s ongoing G20 presidency.