Understanding Digital Rupee: India’s Official Digital Currency
What is a Digital Currency?
Digital currency is any currency that’s available exclusively in electronic form. Such currencies are only accessible with computers or mobile phones because they only exist in electronic form. In simpler terms, digital currency is money in an electronic form exchanged for goods and services without using physical money such as paper bills or coins.
Digital currency is also called digital money, electronic money, electronic currency, or cybercash.
So far we have witnessed electronic exchange of money by way of transfer between bank accounts or payments through debit or credit card. But with digital rupee we are going to witness an altogether different way of transacting money.
What is Digital Rupee?
Central Bank Digital Currency, commonly referred to as CBDC, or e-Rupee or Digital Rupee is a digital form of currency issued by the Reserve Bank of India. The digital rupee is not substantially different from banknotes, but being digital it is likely to be easier, faster, and cheaper.
In simpler terms, cash will now be of two types: paper/physical (banknotes, coins) & digital (CBDC). Just like the physical notes are printed & issued by the central bank, digital currency will be digitally created by RBI & pumped into the system. The money held in your bank account is infact the physical currency that is present somewhere in the banking system. However, digital currency is not something that was initially a physical currency and then converted to digital form. It is an independent currency which does not have a physical cash equivalent in the system anywhere.
How to use the Digital Currency and what will be its impact on current payment system?
The digital rupee will provide users with an additional option for making payments, while the existing payment system is still in place. The money will be in virtual form like other cryptocurrencies but shall be regulated by the RBI.
The RBI had said earlier: “CBDC is the legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form. It is the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with the fiat currency. Only its form is different.”
The users will be able to transact with e-Rupee with the help of a digital wallet as provided by the participating banks and money shall be stored on mobile phones and devices. Using QR codes, the transactions can be done either person-to-person or person to the merchant.
Role and the Future of CBDCs in Today’s World
CBDC can be classified into two basic categories- Wholesale CBDC and Retail CBDC. The RBI’s prime objective for launching Digital Rupee is to advance India in the race for virtual currencies as cryptocurrencies are becoming popular these days.
With the help of the Digital Rupee, customers can pay directly, saving transaction costs and enabling real-time account settlements. Secured with blockchain and advanced encryption technology, digital rupee will offer enhanced security and integrity in all our transactions. Also, it will speed up cross-border transactions and eliminate the need to open a bank account, bolstering the country’s overall digital economy.
When will Digital Rupee be rolled out for Public Use?
At the start, the RBI did a pilot launch of digital currencies for the wholesale sector. Following this, a significant step was taken on December 1st, 2022, when the pilot for the retail Digital Rupee was initiated. This pilot was carried out across four major cities: Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneshwar. Notably, four major banks joined hands in this endeavor. Looking ahead, the RBI is progressively broadening the scope of this launch, encompassing more cities and banks in a phased manner. The intention behind this methodical approach is to thoroughly evaluate the strength of the entire process involving the creation, distribution, and real-time retail usage of the digital rupee.
Also, the Commercial banks primarily concentrate on customer-facing operations, secure transactions and regulatory reporting. The task of implementing CBDCs may add significant complexity for commercial banks and will require a drastic change across the organization to keep up with the need to innovate compatible products.
How is Digital Rupee different from Cryptocurrencies?
A cryptocurrency is a form of currency that is virtual and uses cryptography to secure its transactions. Although the Digital Rupee and Cryptocurrencies are virtual in nature, both are very different from each other.
- Digital Rupee is a centralized form of money issued and regulated by the RBI whereas cryptocurrency is a decentralized and unregulated form of money with no intermediaries in the transaction process.
- The Digital Rupee is only used for receipts and payments and is called the country’s digital fiat. However, Cryptocurrencies are both currencies and assets.
- Users making cryptocurrency payments remain anonymous, which is not the case with Digital Rupee.
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