E-Rupee Worth Over Rs 130 Crore In Circulation, Says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

The Reserve Bank of India had launched pilots in digital rupee in the wholesale segment on Nov. 1, 2022 and in the retail segment on Dec. 1, 2022.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Photo: Naveen Sharma/Reuters)</p></div>
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Photo: Naveen Sharma/Reuters)

Digital or e-rupee worth over Rs 130 crore is in circulation on a pilot basis as of Feb. 28, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

The Reserve Bank of India had launched pilots in digital rupee in the wholesale segment on November 1, 2022 and in the retail segment on December 1, 2022.

Nine banks, viz., State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd., Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., Yes Bank Ltd., IDFC First Bank Ltd. and HSBC, have been participating in the digital rupee wholesale pilot, Sitharaman said.

'As on February 28, 2023, the total digital rupee-retail and digital rupee-wholesale in circulation is Rs 4.14 crore and Rs 126.27 crore, respectively,' Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

The digital rupee-retail is in the form of a digital token that represents legal tender. It is being issued in the same denominations that paper currency and coins are currently issued.

It is being distributed through financial intermediaries, i.e., banks. Users can transact with digital rupee-retail through a digital wallet offered by the participating banks and stored on mobile phones/devices.

The e-rupee pilot for retail segment was launched on December 1, 2022 in five select locations in closed user group for making person to person and person to merchant transactions.

The on-boarded merchants comprise various segments like tea vendors, fruit sellers, street side and sidewalk vendors (including migrant fruit vendors selling on the pavement opposite the RBI's headquarters, Mumbai), small shopkeepers etc,' Sitharaman said.

Further, institutional merchants like retail chains, petrol pumps etc. have also been on-boarded to enable transactions in digital rupee across various outlets.

Few online merchants have also been enabled to accept digital rupee for the convenience of users.

In the approximately three months of the pilot, the total digital rupee - retail in circulation in the select locations is Rs 4.14 crore, the minister said.

'Various use cases, technological architecture and design features are being tested during the pilot. Further steps, including expansion of use case, have to be through a phased implementation strategy on the basis of feedback received during the pilots,' Sitharaman added.