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E-rupee worth ₹16.39 crore in circulation as of March 2023: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has disclosed that as of March 2023, the circulation of the E-rupee, India’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), has reached ₹16.39 crore. This digital currency, which mirrors the country’s physical legal tender, comes in different denominations and serves both wholesale and retail purposes.

Breakdown of E-rupee Circulation:

  • Total E-rupee circulation: ₹16.39 crore.
  • Wholesale CBDC (e₹-W): ₹10.69 crore.
  • Retail CBDC (e₹-R): ₹5.70 crore.
  • The highest circulation is in ₹500 CBDC notes, amounting to ₹2.71 crore.
  • ₹200 notes follow with a circulation of 1.16%.

Denominations and Distribution:

  • Denominations range from 50 paise to ₹100.
  • Circulation for these denominations falls between 0.01% to 0.83%.

CBDC Pilot Initiatives:

  • Wholesale CBDC (e₹-W) was launched in November 2022, initially limited to settling secondary market transactions in government securities.
  • RBI plans to expand the use of E-rupee in other inter-bank money markets.
  • Retail CBDC (e₹-R) was launched a month later in December 2022 within a closed user group consisting of participating customers, banks, and merchants.
  • Initially launched with eight public and private sector banks, the retail E-rupee is now extended to more banks.
  • Retail E-rupee has been made interoperable with UPI QR codes.

UPI Interoperability and Future Plans:

  • RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar announced that 13 banks are involved in the retail CBDC pilot for UPI interoperability.
  • Expanding UPI interoperability to the remaining top 20–25 banks is an ongoing process.
  • UPI interoperability allows E-rupee payments using existing QR codes for the UPI ecosystem.
  • Even if a merchant lacks a CBDC wallet, CBDC payments via UPI will enable the E-rupee to be deposited directly into the merchant’s or receiver’s bank account.

Future Focus on E-rupee Transactions:

  • As of now, there are approximately 15,000 E-rupee transactions daily.
  • The RBI aims to scale this number to one million (10 lakh) transactions.
  • Recent efforts have focused on making E-rupee interoperable with UPI QR codes, and the next step is to enhance transaction volumes.

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