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India Eyes One Million CBDC Users Over Next Three Months

UTC by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
India Eyes One Million CBDC Users Over Next Three Months
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Sources familiar with the matter said that the architects of the retail CBDC are working to incorporate offline transactions and eyeing half a million users by July.

India is one of those top global economies that has been pilot-testing its central bank digital currency (CBDC) aka the Digital Rupee. As per the latest reports, the architects of India’s retail central bank digital currency (CBDC-R) are aiming to scale the user base of the Digital Rupee to a million users.

Sources familiar with the matter also told the CoinDesk publication that the architects have prioritized solving the challenges of creating an offline version.

Last month in March, the RBI officials said that they are planning to onboard half a million users by July, in the pilot project of a CBDC. RBI executive director Ajay Kumar Choudhary said:

“In the close user group, at this point of time, there are nearly 90,000 customers and nearly 9,000 merchants and we are targeting to scale up to half a million by June-July of this year. We are going to test multiple tech architecture, multiple design features, multiple use cases, including offline programme, we are not in a hurry to implement it. Once we are comfortable and confident, about all aspects including cyber security and tech architecture then only we are going to roll out at the population level”.

One of the sources also told CoinDesk that reaching half a million users won’t be difficult considering India’s massive population.

India’s CBDC Pilot Projects

India’s central bank aka the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is currently conducting pilot tests for both – retail as well as wholesale CBDCs. The retail CBDC pilot is currently active in 15 cities across India with 13 banks participating.

India’s RBI started the pilot tests for its retail CBDC back on December 1, 2022, and in four months since then, it has seen more than 100,000 customers. Also, during the latest meeting of all G20 finance ministers in Bengaluru, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said that “an eminent person from the international financial sector went to the extent of complementing the design of our CBDC, adding that the only thing he missed in the CBDC was the smell of new currency.”

India’s central bank is also conducting a few hackathons this year to unlock the solutions to challenges around a retail CBDC. This includes finding solutions for improving scalability, increasing transactions per second as well as enabling offline transactions.

One of the sources said:

“This is nearly an impossible trinity. As on date, you can achieve two objectives but not the third. Hopefully, some technological innovation will address this soon.”

If the CBDC can facilitate offline transactions, it would be a gamechanger leading to greater financial inclusion, especially for emerging economies like India.

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