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Reserve Bank of India expands digital rupee pilot program

reserve-bank-of-india-expands-digital-rupee-pilot-program
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Reserve Bank of India expands digital rupee pilot program

The Reserve Bank of India is enhancing its digital rupee pilot, as it intends to broaden participation and incorporate diverse use cases in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is intensifying its digital rupee pilot, representing a significant step towards transforming India’s financial paradigm. According to the yearly report released on May 30, the upcoming fiscal year will witness an enlarged scope of the pilot, involving more participating banks and a diverse range of use cases.

The RBI has been running two distinct e-Rupee test projects.

One focuses on retail use, where the e-Rupee is intended to replace physical cash, while the other, a wholesale CBDC project, seeks to simplify the settlement of government securities transactions. Launched in November and December last year respectively, the pilots have witnessed promising progress.

Reserve Bank of India expands digital rupee pilot program - 1

The RBI’s annual report confirms that both pilots’ outcomes have been positive and met the set expectations. An expansion is on the cards for the retail pilot, aimed at welcoming more participating banks into the fold of India’s CBDC ecosystem.

The digital rupee, the RBI posits, is set to provide an efficient, speedy, and cost-effective alternative to traditional forms of currency. The RBI will control the e-Rupee’s issuance and redemption process, while the participating banks will manage distribution and payment services.

Settling transactions using central bank money is expected to cut transaction costs significantly by eliminating the need for a settlement guarantee infrastructure or collateral for risk mitigation, as per the RBI.

The RBI is currently weighing the pros and cons of adopting a traditional centralized payment system, similar to platforms like WeChat and Venmo, or a distributed ledger technology (DLT) system.

India is already among a handful of countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Nigeria, venturing into CBDC testing. The increasing global trend towards digital currencies is also evident with the U.S.’s potential move towards proposing a Fed-issued digital dollar.

As India takes strides towards a digital currency, the broader involvement of banks and the implementation of varied use-cases in the digital rupee pilot signifies the nation’s commitment to creating a digital financial system.