What is the wholesale rupee?
The wholesale rupee is a form of digital currency used in India that is used by businesses and traders to purchase goods and services in bulk. It is a form of currency that is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The wholesale rupee has been in use since the early 1950s and has become an integral part of the Indian economy. It is used for various purposes such as import and export, trading, investments, remittances, etc. The wholesale rupee also helps to reduce the cost of transactions for businesses as it eliminates the need for conversion into other currencies. It also helps to maintain stability in prices across different states in India.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das termed the launch of the wholesale rupee a landmark moment in the history of currency. “Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or digital rupee (e₹) will transform the way business is done and the way transactions are conducted,” Das said in his address at FICCI’s Banking Conference – FIBAC 2022. He added that RBI is currently working towards a phased implementation of the e-rupee. “Yesterday, we started our pilot project on wholesale CBDC. We propose to commence the pilot project for retail CBDCs shortly,” he added.
For the unversed, CBDC is a regular currency issued digitally. It is the legal tender issued by a central bank in digital form. India’s CBDC is called ‘e₹’, and it can be exchanged one-for-one for fiat currency as it is a digital form of the rupee. “ It is the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with the fiat currency. Only its form is different,” said RBI. The use case for the wholesale pilot is the settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities. The use of e₹-W, or wholesale, is expected to make the interbank market more efficient, according to the banking regulator.
In the pilot phase, CBDC has opted for 9 banks for wholesale currency. 3 are public sector banks, 5 are Private banks and 1 is a foreign bank. Check the wholesale currency bank’s list below.
Public Sector Banks
State Bank of India
Bank of Baroda
Union Bank of India,
Private Sector Banks
Kotak Mahindra Bank
IDFC First Bank
All the above banks are authorized to issue retail digital currency. On 1st December 2022, a few banks like ICICI bank issued CBDC digital currency retails via android and IOS apps. You can download the CBDC ICICI bank application and start the digital retail currency transactions.
However, it is a pilot project and banks had opened windows for a few applicants, and now all the windows have closed for new registrations.