India to Start Retail CBDC Pilot in Four Cities With Four Banks

The Reserve Bank of India will start testing its retail central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital rupee, in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar with the initial participation of four banks: State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank, it announced Tuesday.

Later, the pilot will extend to nine more cities and another four institutions will join, the central bank said.

The pilot will be conducted in a closed user group of participating customers and merchants. The CBDC will be issued in the same denominations currently used for notes and coins. Payments to merchants will be made using QR codes and, like cash, the digital rupee will not earn any interest.

The decision to start the pilot Dec. 1 was announced in October. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had revealed plans to issue a digital rupee in the financial year ending 2023 during her budget speech in February.

The RBI has maintained that banning cryptocurrency is the most suitable choice for India.

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