RBI’s digital currency has 1.5 million users, 300,000 merchants, says governor

10 Sep 2023


Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday said the central bank digital currency (CBDC) now has around 1.5 million users and that over 300,000 merchants are currently accepting payments in digital rupees.

Giving an update on the CBDC, the RBI governor said the pilot is being operated through 13 banks in 26 cities.  He was addressing the annual Global Fintech Fest in Mumbai.

RBI launched its digital rupee pilot for the wholesale segment in November last year, followed by a pilot in the retail segment in December.

The governor said the digital currency trial has since been rolled out to approximately 1.46 million users, adding that the pilot is being operated through 13 banks in 26 cities and that over 300,000 merchants have accepted payments in CBDCs as of 31 August.

Further, he revealed that the RBI has enabled full interoperability of CBDC with UPI QR codes, noting that the central bank is targeting 1 million daily CBDC transactions by December this year, which will provide it with sufficient data points for analysis.

It may be noted that the growth in CBDC use from 50,000 users and 5,000 merchants in February 2023 to 1.46 million users and 300,000 merchants in August has been exceptional, RBI deputy governor T Rabi Sankar said.

It was in February that the Reserve Bank adopted the CBDC. By July the user base had surged to 1.3 million, with 300,000 merchants accepting the digital rupee.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G20 leader’ summit on Sunday, RBI executive director Ajay Kumar Choudhary said the Indian central bank is likely to launch a CBDC pilot for transactions for interbank borrowing or call money market by October. 

RBI is planning to introduce wholesale CBDC in the call market either this month or next month.

Choudhary said the e-rupee will rival cryptocurrency, adding that the central bank digital currency will act as an alternative to cryptocurrency. Shankar had, last December, claimed that India’s CBDC should be able to do anything crypto can do without risks.


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