Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or e-rupee worth ₹16.39 crore is in circulation as of March 2023, as per data from RBI’s Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy for FY23.

Of the total e-rupee circulation, ₹10.69 crore was wholesale CBDC whereas ₹5.70 crore was retail CBDC, data showed.

E-rupee is the digital representation of India’s legal tender and similar to physical currency, is issued in various denominations to banks.

The circulation was highest for ₹500 CBDC notes at ₹2.71 crore, followed by ₹200 notes at 1.16 per cent. Circulation for all other currency denominations of 50 paise to ₹100 was below 1 per cent, ranging between 0.01-0.83 per cent.

RBI had introduced the CBDC pilot for the wholesale segment, known as the CBDC (W) or e₹-W, was launched in November 2022, with the use case being limited to settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities. The central bank is now looking to expand the use of the e-rupee to other inter-bank money markets.

The retail pilot known as CBDC (R) or e₹-R, was launched a month later in December 2022, within a closed user group comprising participating customers, banks and merchants. Initially launched with eight public and private sector banks, retail e-rupee has now been extended to more banks and has been made interoperable with UPI QR codes.

In July, RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar had said that there are 13 banks involved in the retail CBDC pilot for UPI interoperability, however, extending it to the remaining top 20–25 banks will take some more time.

UPI interoperability will facilitate e-rupee payments through the use of existing QR codes for the UPI ecosystem. Even if the merchant does not have a CBDC wallet, CBDC payments via UPI will allow for the e-rupee to be deposited in the merchant’s or receiver’s bank account.

On September 15, Sankar at the sidelines of an event, said that with interoperability now completed and implemented, the focus is now on increasing the volume of e-rupee transactions.

“It is roughly around 15,000 (transactions) a day or so, we will have to take it to one million (10 lakh). Initially our efforts, over the last 1-1.5 months, has been to make it interoperable with the UPI QR codes. With that process done, we’ll focus on the transactions,” he had said.