India Has 1.4 Billion People and Only 50,000 CBDC Users
Only 50,000 users are participating in India’s CBDC pilot project, an almost insignificant figure considering India’s population of around 1.4 billion people. Still, the RBI’s deputy governor reiterated the central bank intends to proceed with the project cautiously and gradually to avoid unwanted fallouts.
RBI Emphasizes It Does Not Want to Rush the CBDC Project
India’s retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot project is seeing participation from only 50,000 users and 5,000 merchants, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar stated at a press conference that the RBI wants the project to proceed gradually and cautiously, to avoid taking any actions without fully understanding their potential impact.
“We want the process to happen, but we want the process to happen gradually and slowly. We are in no hurry to make something happen so quickly.”
– RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar said at the post-policy press conference.
At the moment, eight banks are engaging in the project, with another five set to join soon. The pilot, which began on December 1, has recorded 7.7 lakh transactions and is currently taking place in five cities, with plans to add nine more in the future.
Two Months After the Rollout, Indians’ Interest in CBDC Seems Very Poor
While Sankar stressed the importance of proceeding slowly and gradually in expanding India’s CBDC project, the 50,000 users currently participating in the project seem very minute, given that India is the second most populated country in the world, with roughly 1.4 billion people.
RBI’s new data comes several months after it launched two CBDC pilots in 2022. The first CBDC was a wholesale version (CBDC-W) launched in November with the participation of nine banks, including HDFC Bank, Bank of Baroda, ICICI Bank, and Union Bank of India, among others.
The other CBDC pilot is the retail version (CBDC-R), launched in December. It was rolled out in four major Indian cities, including Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar, with the participation of four banks. Last week, India’s largest retailer Reliance Retail announced the support for the digital rupee in its Freshpik line of stores across the country.
With the launch, India joined 100 other countries trying to launch a CBDC. These currencies represent digital versions of fiat currencies issued and regulated by a nation’s monetary authority or central bank. Other nations that recently made developments in this area include Brazil and Hong Kong.