What Is Digital Rupee? How Will It Work?

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What Is Digital Rupee? How Will It Work?

Digital Rupee: An Overview

The central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), announced that it will launch the pilot for retail digital rupee starting tomorrow - 1 December 2022. Earlier in the month (1 November), the RBI launched the pilot for the wholesale segment digital rupee. Let us look at the details and how you can use it.

What is Digital Rupee?

The e-rupee is a form of digital token that will represent legal tender. It is different from cryptocurrencies as the digital rupee is issued in the same denomination as paper coins and traditional currency. Cryptocurrency has its own denomination - for example, the Bitcoin unit can have a 0.001 denomination and can translate to any rupee amount. Digital currency will be available in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and other denominations that are available for physical currency.

How Will the Digital Rupee Work?

The digital currency in the first phase (pilot) will be issued by only four banks - State Bank of India (SBI)Yes BankICICI Bank, and IDFC First Bank. Users can get the digital rupee from any of these banks and use it for a transaction. There would be digital wallets (similar to what we have for cryptocurrency) that you could download on your phones to use the digital rupee.

Using the digital rupee, you can send money to your friend (Person-to-Person) or pay any bills (Person-to-Merchant). To pay merchants, you can initiate payment via QR codes also.

Since they are like physical cash - you won't get any interest on your digital rupee. Also, like physical cash, you will always have the option to convert it into different forms - transfer to a savings account, open a bank deposit, etc.

Digital Currencies Across the World

(This chart has been sourced from the Visual Capitalist)

Digital Rupee: List of Eligible Banks and Cities

We have already mentioned the four banks above that are part of the first pilot. The central bank does not want to rush with digital currency. Hence, the expansion will happen in a phased manner. In the second phase of the pilot, four more banks will be included - Bank of BarodaHDFC BankKotak Mahindra Bank, and Union Bank of India.

In the first pilot phase, the digital currency will be available in four cities - Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar. In the second pilot phase, cities that will be included are Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Indore, Gangtok, Guwahati, Kochi, Patna, and Shimla.

There is no timeline as to when the service will be rolled out to all the cities and be available at all banks.

Is the Digital Rupee Safe to Use?

Users should not doubt the authenticity of the digital rupee and compare it with other digital currencies (cryptocurrency). It will be issued by the central bank (RBI) and will have the same trust level as physical currency. 

Yes, there could be some issues in using digital currency in the initial phases. However, the central bank has said that it will use the pilot to learn, and based on the learning, it will offer various features and applications to users in the future.

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