HDFC Bank Onboards Over 1 Lakh Customers, 1.7 Lakh Merchants On Digital Currency Pilot

At present, HDFC Bank facilitates e-rupee payments across 26 cities.
At present, HDFC Bank facilitates e-rupee payments across 26 cities.

The largest private sector lender HDFC Bank on Thursday claimed that it has on-boarded over 1 lakh customers and more than 1.7 lakh merchants on the CBDC pilot programme and activated an interoperable UPI QR code with the e-rupee platform.

The Reserve Bank of India last November launched the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot programme, a tokenised digital version of the rupee for wholesale and retail early December.

Earlier this week, RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar said the monetary authority is planning to increase the digital rupee transactions to 10 lakh/day by the end of the year from 5,000-10,000 per day now.

The number of banks in the pilot has gone up to 13 from eight banks initially, and at present, there are 13 lakh users of the CBDC, including 3 lakh merchants.

There were only 1 lakh users till April-end this year, which has now been increased to 13 lakh, Sankar said.

Following the launch, the central bank in June announced CBDC interoperability with UPI systems.

With the launch of the UPI QR code on Thursday, HDFC Bank, which earlier this month took over its parent HDFC in a mega USD 40-billion merger, said it is one of the first banks to complete the integration process and allows its onboarded merchants to accept e-rupee payments from their customers, boosting usage of the CBDC in day-to-day transactions.

An interoperable QR code enables basic QR payment acceptance terminals to support scan and pay features from various factors and payment options.

For customers, the key benefits of the interoperable UPI QR code with the CBDC include money transactions available in their CBDC wallet across the UPI QR code, avoiding the need to scan different QR codes at the same merchant.

For the merchants, the main benefit is that they only need to display one QR code at the storefront or through the acquiring bank mobile application, said Parag Rao, head of payments -- consumer finance, technology and digital banking -- at the bank.

The application is currently available to Android version 10 users and will be launched on iOS, he added.

At present, HDFC Bank facilitates e-rupee payments across 26 cities, which include all the major metros and smaller cities like Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Gangtok, Indore, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Kochi, Goa, Shimla, Jaipur, Ranchi, Nagpur, Varanasi, Vishakhapatnam, Pondicherry and Vijayawada.

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