The fag end of the previous year saw the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) commence the retail and wholesale pilots of the nation’s first-ever Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) – the e-Rupee (e₹-R). Now, the adoption of the digital currency just got a boost with the acceptance of Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain.
On Thursday, the Mukesh Ambani-led firm announced that it will start accepting retail payments in the e-Rupee across all of its stores that span across the country. In this vein, it launched the first in-store acceptance of India’s CBDC at Mumbai’s Freshpik store (something that will soon arrive in all of Reliance Retail’s 17,000 stores across the country). For those who are unaware, Freshpik is Reliance Retail’s gourmet food superstore, which was launched last year.
In a public event on Thursday, V. Subramaniam, managing director at Reliance Retail, announced that it was teaming up with fintech player Innoviti Technologies, ICICI Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank for the rolling out of in-store support for the digital rupee across its stores. “This historic initiative of pioneering the digital currency acceptance at our stores is in line with the company’s strategic vision of offering the power of choice to Indian consumers,” V Subramaniam said in a statement. “With more Indians willing to transact digitally, this initiative will help us provide yet another efficient and secure alternative payment method to customers at our stores.”
Customers who are interested in paying with the digital rupee (e₹-R) will be provided with a dynamic digital rupee acceptance QR code for scanning at the store. Customers can easily authorize payment through the e-Rupee by They can then scan the QR code on the Digital Rupee app terminal and enter the passcode. Once that is done, the consumer will be informed of the payment.
This development makes Reliance Retail the largest Indian firm to accept the CBDC as payments across its business. Moreover, it provides the impetus and sets the ball rolling for other Indian firms to open their doors and accept the digital currency, something that will further the adoption of the CBDC and yield better returns. With the CBDC, the cash handling costs for merchants will be reduced, allowing them to bargain for better rates from banks for the services offered for handling the Digital Rupee. Furthermore, the widespread adoption of the nation’s CBDC will reduce the country’s overdependence on cash – something that the RBI undoubtedly wishes to lower – as well as enable cheaper and smoother international settlements.
“e₹ is a game-changer in the digital revolution unleashed in the country,” said Deepak Sharma, President and Chief Digital Officer at Kotak Mahindra Bank, in a statement. “All customers having e₹-R wallets will now be able to enjoy an effortless, safe, and instant way of digital transactions at Reliance Retail stores.”
“The history of money has had a riveting journey, evolving through barter, to coins, to notes and now is in its new digital avatar. India’s revolution in digital payment led to an exponential increase in transactions yet payment via cash continues to remain popular. Digital Rupee fulfills the need of consumers who still prefer the trust, safety, and settlement finality of physical currency,” said Rajeev Agrawal, founder and CEO of Innoviti Technologies Private Ltd.