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Reliance Retail to Accept Digital Rupee CBDC for Payments in Mumbai Amid India’s Silence on Crypto

Reliance Retail on Thursday, February 2, reportedly announced that it would begin using India’s digital rupee CBDC across its stores in Mumbai. The retail giant has partnered with ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank to accept and process CBDC payments. The government of India has been rolling out its CBDC in select cities including Mumbai. Reliance Retail customers who wish to pay using the CBDC will need the banks’ digital rupee app to facilitate the payment by scanning a QR code.

The development was reportedly announced by V Subramaniam, the managing director at Reliance Retail, during a public event on Thursday.

“I believe CBDC will be better than the UPI system. Transactions will be anonymous and protected. Moreover, acceptance across 17,000 Reliance Retail stores will play a role in getting CBDC adopted,” Subramaniam was quoted as saying.

Built on the distributed ledger system of blockchain, the CBDC is a digital representation of India’s fiat currency. Using CBDCs would maintain unchangeable and transparent transaction records on the blockchain while also slashing all additional costs like service charges currently related to online payments.

In December last year, India’s CBDC officially stepped into its retail trial period in four cities — New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar.

The State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, and IDFC First bank are also participants in the ongoing CBDC trials.

Subramaniam’s announcement on CBDC acceptance comes just one day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman skipped to touch upon the subject during the budget speech.

India, while being sceptical about letting nationals dabble in volatile cryptocurrencies, is open to exploring the potential of the blockchain technology.

In November last year, Shaktikanta Das, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had said that this CBDC is going to be a major transformation of the way business is done.

Transactions via CBDCs would remain anonymous ‘to a certain degree’ in alignment with appropriate legal provisions, an RBI official had said in December 2022.

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