The Reserve Bank of India is in no undue hurry to implement the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) full scale as it wants to ensure its safety, integrity and efficiency, said Governor Shaktikanta Das.
A CBDC is the legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form. It is the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with the fiat currency. Only its form is different.
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The RBI introduced its CBDC in phases during FY23, with the launch of pilots for Digital Rupee in the wholesale and retail segments on November 1, 2022 and December 1, 2022, respectively.
“Country-wide launch will depend on the success, learning and fine tuning of CBDC itself. So, that is the distance which we have to cover. But we have no target date for implementation.
“We are also in no undue hurry or rush to implement it full scale because after all it is a currency – its safety, integrity and efficiency has to be ensured. We want to make it truly robust,” Das said in an interaction at the World Economic Forum Annual Meetings at Davos.
Under the CBDC pilot, on the retail side, there are now 4 million users and there are 0.40 million merchants who have also been onboarded.
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Das observed that the QR (quick response) code used for e-Rupee (digital currency) transactions and for UPI (Unified Payments Interface) is the same. In other words, the CBDC, the e-Rupee and UPI payment systems have been made interoperable.
The Governor said lot of CBDC transactions are happening in the retail segment. In the wholesale segment, transactions with regard to the Government Securities market (primary auctions as well as the secondary market operations) and overnight money market transactions are happening.
Das emphasised that while UPI is a payments system, CBDC is a currency.
“CBDC can operate in places where there is no internet; offline payments will become much easier because from my CBDC wallet I can pay money to your wallet. In UPI we now trying to facilitate that by introducing certain new products. But CBDC, we feel, will be very efficient.
“The greatest advantage of CBDC will be that cross-border payments will become far more efficient, faster and very cost effective. As and when other countries adopt digital currency, I think, international payments systems will really gain in efficiency…. It is a new technology which is developing. I think, ultimately, it is going to be future money,” Das said.