Big Indian Merchants Including Reliance Retail Start Accepting CBDC

India's central bank digital currency (CBDC), also known as the digital rupee, will start getting accepted as a retail payment by some of the biggest merchants in the nation, which includes the country's largest retail chain, Reliance Retail.

A senior official working on the digital rupee also confirmed the development saying "from Reliance, Indian Oil, Cafe Coffee Day to roadside fruit sellers and tea vendors," several partners are now all set to use the digital rupee.

India's plans for CBDC adoption was first announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in February of last year. After laying out a vision for the CBDC in a 50-page concept note, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched pilots for both wholesale and retail before the end of the 2022. The nation wants to launch its retail CBDC by the end of 2023, CoinDesk has earlier reported.

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India's CBDC plans appear to have picked up speed. The retail CBDC which started testing in December in four cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar) has "now been extended to 15 cities with Chandigarh as the newest addition," the official said. "More than 50,000 customers and 10,000 small and big merchants have been onboarded now."

The RBI, the issuing authority of the digital rupee also conducted a CBDC awareness seminar with college students from the Punjab Engineering College on Jan. 25, 2023.

By bringing on a technology partner in Innoviti Technologies and payment partners Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI Bank, Reliance Retail which is part of the Mukesh Ambani led Indian conglomerate Reliance, said it had become the first organized retail chain in India to create in-store acceptance of the digital rupee for its customers.

"This historic initiative of pioneering the digital currency acceptance at our stores is in line with the company’s strategic vision of offering the power of choice to Indian consumer," said V. Subramaniam, Director, Reliance Retail Limited.

Indian Oil and Cafe Coffee Day did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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