Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, will start accepting retail payments in digital rupee in a move that could supercharge the adoption of the country’s recently launched CBDC.
The Mukesh Ambani-led firm said it has partnered with ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and fintech Innoviti Technologies to launch the in-store support for digital rupee. Customers who wish to pay with the country's CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), called e₹-R, will be provided with a dynamic digital rupee acceptance QR code for scanning at the store, the retail giant said Thursday.
Reliance Retail, part of the Indian conglomerate Reliance, said it has rolled out the support for CBDC at its gourmet store line Freshpik and will extend the feature across all its properties eventually. Thursday's move makes Reliance the largest Indian firm to adopt the digital rupee.
"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,” said V Subramaniam, director, Reliance Retail, 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.”
India’s central bank started to pilot the e₹-R in December for retail markets across select Indian cities.
Through e₹-R, the Reserve Bank of India hopes to lower the economy’s reliance on cash, enable cheaper and smoother international settlements and protect people from the volatility of private cryptocurrencies. Based on the test results of the ongoing pilot, the central bank plans to experiment with additional features and applications of the digital rupee.
India’s central bank has spent the last few years largely pushing to make its citizens avoid crypto trading. Despite a ruling from the country’s apex court, the central bank continues to force the hand of banks from engaging with crypto platforms in India, a move that has made on-ramp a nightmare for the firms involved, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
"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."