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5 more banks to join digital rupee pilot in 9 more cities soon

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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 5,000 are merchants. The service is being offered on an invitation basis by eight banks across five cities now, RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar told reporters 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.

But he quickly added that the central bank does not want to rush its adoption as it favours a slow, steady and glitch-free adoption.

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.

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