India to launch retail Digital Rupee on pilot basis: Which other countries have CBDC?

   2022-11-30 01:11

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced today (29 November) that the retail digital currency will be launched on 1 December on a pilot basis.

Eight banks have been roped in for phase-wise participation in the trial, a statement by the central bank said.



The retail digital Rupee or e₹-R is a virtual token that represents legal tender. It would be available in the same denominations in which paper currency and coins are issued, the RBI said.

The pilot will kickstart in four banks – State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank and IDFC First Bank – in four cities, including Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar. Four other banks – Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank – will join this pilot eventually and it would also be extended to other cities such as Ahmedabad, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Shimla.

With this, India will enter the league of countries that have introduced Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). What is CBDC and which countries have it? Let’s take a closer look.

What is CBDC?

The Central Bank Digital Currency is a legal tender issued in digital form by a central bank of a country.

“It is akin to sovereign paper currency but takes a different form, exchangeable at par with the existing currency and shall be accepted as a medium of payment, legal tender, and a safe store of value. CBDCs would appear as a liability on a central bank’s balance sheet,” says the RBI.

India to launch retail Digital Rupee on pilot basis Which other countries have CBDC

The RBI will launch retail digital rupee on 1 December on pilot basis. News18 (Representational Image)

As per India’s central bank, CBDC is a “fungible legal tender” for which holders do not require to have a bank account.

ALSO READ: What is CBDC and how is it different from cryptocurrency?

CBDCs around the world

At least 100 countries are exploring centralized digital currencies on some level or other. While some are researching, others have introduced digital currency on a pilot basis or officially launched it for the public.

A look at where countries stand according to the CBDC Tracker.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas launched one of the world’s first central bank digital currencies in 2020. The Sand Dollar was issued by the Central Bank of Bahamas in October of that year.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness confirmed in February that the Bank of Jamaica will roll out its digital currency named JAM-DEX this year following a successful trial in 2021.

The Caribbean nation was among the first countries to legalise the centralised digital currency.

Nigeria

In October this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria marked one year since the launch of Africa’s first digital currency, the e-Naira.

As per Euronews, eNaira is stored in a digital wallet. It can be used for in-store payments virtually and for transferring money.

India to launch retail Digital Rupee on pilot basis Which other countries have CBDC

Nigeria launched its centralised digital currency last year. AP File Photo

Nigeria’s central bank has plans to expand the e-Naira merchant base from around 4,000 to over 7,000 across the country in the coming months, Voice of America reported in October.

Eastern Caribbean Union

Countries in the Eastern Caribbean Union have issued their own digital currency called DCash.

These seven countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as per Euronews.

The DCash, a blockchain-based digital Eastern Caribbean dollar, was reportedly the first CBDC introduced by any of the world’s currency unions.

Russia

Russia aims to roll out its Digital Ruble across all banks and credit institutions in 2024, as per Cointelegraph report in August.

The Bank of Russia also intends to introduce its CBDC in a “gradual manner, unlocking new different trials and features year by year”, the report added.

Sweden, Norway, Israel

Sweden is testing its centralised digital currency E-krona.

According to Central Banking report, the central banks of Israel, Norway and Sweden have launched a project with the Bank for International Settlements to test linking their domestic CBDCs.

“The Bank of Israel, Central Bank of Norway and Sveriges Riksbank will connect their prototype CBDC systems,” the report said.

China

China was the first major country in the world to pilot a digital currency in April 2020, as per Euronews.

China’s central bank will expand the trials of its digital currency, the e-CNY, to four provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei and Sichuan, South China Morning Post reported in September this year.

Earlier, China had limited the rollout of its CBDC to select cities, merchants and regions, as per Cointelegraph.

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in October that transactions using digital yuan exceeded 100 billion yuan ($13.9 billion) as of August 31, 2022, Reuters reported.

USA

The US is still in the research phase. The White House said in a statement in September that the reports submitted to President Joe Biden “encourage the Federal Reserve to continue its ongoing CBDC research, experimentation, and evaluation and call for the creation of a Treasury-led interagency working group to support the Federal Reserve’s efforts.”

Other countries

The central bank of South Korea has invited 10 banks to test interoperability between its digital currency and their IT systems, CoinGeek reported.

It was reported in August this year that Thailand’s central bank expects to launch a pilot phase of its retail centralised digital currency by the end of 2022. The Bank of Thailand said in a statement on 5 August that “real-life applications” of a retail CBDC will be “tested in cooperation with the private sector within a limited scale”, as per Central Banking report.

Euro Area or Euro Zone, the UK, Canada, Laos and Namibia are among some other regions and countries that are in the research stage of a centralised digital currency, according to CBDC Tracker.

With inputs from agencies

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