India explores offline functionality of CBDCs

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India explores offline functionality of CBDCs
Credit: © Reuters.

  • India’s recently launched in-house CBDC is now being tested for offline functionality, revealed RBI executive director.
  • Last year, UPI enabled 7,404.45 crore transactions, totaling Rs. 125.95 lakh crore.
The digital rupee (e), India’s recently launched in-house central bank digital currency (CBDC), is now being tested for offline functionality, revealed Ajay Kumar Choudhary, executive director of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The RBI is the central bank and regulatory body of India.

On 1 November last year, the RBI launched the wholesale segment pilot for the digital rupee. The project onboarded 50,000 users and 5,000 merchants for real-world testing. Approximately $134 million and 800,000 transactions had been completed through wholesale CBDCs as of 25 February.

Based on this progress, Choudhary stated that the RBI is investigating the offline functionality of CBDC. In an interview with CNBC TV18, he stated that the central bank is assessing the CBDC’s potential for cross-border transactions and integration with legacy systems in other countries.

The central bank is anticipating the participation of the private sector and fintech firms in CBDCs.

Choudhary iterated that the CBDC will soon become a medium of exchange and will require all of the characteristics of physical currency, including the anonymity.

RBI hoping to replace cryptocurrencies with CBDCs The CBDC was launched by India in order to improve regional financial inclusion and to lead the digital economy. Choudhary also stated that CBDC would eventually replace cryptocurrencies.

In the beginning, four major Indian banks, namely the State Bank of India (NS: SBI ), Indian Overseas Bank (NS: IOBK ), Indian Bank (NS: INBA ), and ICICI Bank (NS: ICBK ) are going to handle outgoing remittances.

Axis Bank (NS: AXBK ) and DBS Bank India will be handling incoming remittances. DBS Bank and Liquid Group in Singapore will provide the service to users in the region.

The unified payments interface (UPI), India’s national payment network, expanded its services to Singapore last week. The UPI PayNow integration enables Indian and Singaporean citizens to quickly send money across borders.

Last year, UPI enabled 7,404.45 crore transactions or 2,347 transactions per second. The total transaction value reached Rs. 125.95 lakh crore, reflecting a 1.75x increase over 2021.

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