New Delhi: Digital or e-rupee worth over Rs 130 crore is in circulation on a pilot basis as of February 28, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched pilots in digital rupee in the wholesale segment on November 1, 2022, and in the retail segment on December 1, 2022.
Nine banks, viz., State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, IDFC First Bank, and HSBC, have been participating in the digital rupee wholesale pilot, Sitharaman said. (Also Read: Open Account With Rs 250, Get Rs 2.5 Lakh At Maturity From This Govt Scheme: Check Return Calculator, Other Details)
“As on February 28, 2023, the total digital rupee – Retail, and digital rupee – wholesale in circulation is Rs 4.14 crore and Rs 126.27 crore, respectively,” Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. (Also Read: Signature Bank 2nd Lender To Fail In Last Three Days, 3rd Largest Bank Failure In US History)
The retail segment is in the form of a digital token that represents legal tender. It is being issued in the same denominations that paper currency and coins are currently issued. It is being distributed through financial intermediaries i.e. banks. Users can transact with digital rupee through a digital wallet offered by the participating banks and stored on mobile phones/devices.
The pilot for the retail segment was launched on December 1, 2022, in 5 select locations in the closed user group for making Person to Person (P2P) and Person to Merchant (P2M) transactions.
The onboarded merchants comprise various segments like tea vendors, fruit sellers, street side and sidewalk vendors (including migrant fruit vendors selling on the pavement opposite the RBI’s headquarters, Mumbai), small shopkeepers etc,” Sitharaman said.
Further, institutional merchants like retail chains, petrol pumps, etc. have also been on-boarded to enable transactions in digital rupee across various outlets. Few online merchants have also been enabled to accept digital rupees for the convenience of users.
In the approximately three months of the pilot, the total digital rupee – Retail in circulation in the select locations is Rs 4.14 crore, the minister said. “Various use cases, technological architecture, and design features are being tested during the pilot… Further steps, including expansion of use case, have to be through a phased implementation strategy on the basis of feedback received during the pilots,” Sitharaman added.