July 18, 2024


India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), says it will soon commence “limited pilot launches” of the country’s digital currency (digital rupee) for specific use cases. The central bank explained that “multiple technological options shall be tested and based on the outcomes, the final architecture shall be decided.”

RBI Prepares to Launch Digital Rupee Pilot

India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), published a report titled “Concept Note on Central Bank Digital Currency” Friday. The 51-page document explains the “objectives, choices, benefits, and risks of issuing” a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in India, the RBI described, adding that it has been exploring the pros and cons of introducing a central bank digital currency “for some time.”

The RBI clarified that the upcoming CBDC, also referred to as e₹ (digital rupee) “is substantially not different from banknotes, but being digital it is likely to be easier, faster, and cheaper.” The report details:

RBI is currently engaged in working towards a phased implementation strategy, going step by step through various stages of pilots followed by the final launch, and simultaneously examining use cases that could be implemented with minimal or no disruption.

“Depending on the different use cases, multiple technological options shall be tested and based on the outcomes, the final architecture shall be decided,” the report adds, noting that the central bank is “deliberating on the various aspects of technological choices available.”

Moreover, the RBI is “exploring the option of implementation of account-based CBDC in wholesale segment and token-based CBDC in retail segment vide a graded approach.”

The concept note also details the planned features of a digital rupee and the RBI’s approach toward introducing a digital currency. It discusses key considerations such as technology and design choices, issuance mechanisms, privacy issues, and “the implications of introduction of CBDC on the banking system, monetary policy, [and] financial stability.”

“CBDC, the central bank digital currency, holds a lot of promises by way of ensuring transparency, and low cost of operation among other benefits and the potential to expand the existing payment systems to address the needs of a wider category of users,” the central bank concluded, adding:

The Reserve Bank will soon commence limited pilot launches of e₹ for specific use cases.

According to the RBI, the way forward “requires elaborate planning in terms of scope, cost, and timelines to ensure the timely roll out of different phases of CBDC introduction.”

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