The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on December 1, 2022, began the much-awaited trial run of India’s first retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) or ‘e-rupee’ in four cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar—through eight participating banks.
CBDC is not expected to replace India’s premier instant payment solution, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), instead, it is touted to replace physical cash.
Experts pointed out that to carry out payments through UPI, individuals need to have a bank account and often a functioning debit card, but for accessing the e-Rupi wallet, there will be no need to have such a bank account.
UPI transactions are backed by physical currency. This means the payment will not go through if the user’s bank account does not have enough funds. The e-rupee, however, can be used for digital payments in lieu of currency/cash. “The e-rupi is issued by RBI and is a legal tender in itself. It need not necessarily be backed by physical currency.