The Reserve Bank of India launched a retail digital rupee (e₹R) pilot on 1 December with four banks in four cities.

Innoviti Technologies, a payments-focused financial technology company, announced Thursday the launch of in-store payments via Digital Rupee-Retail in partnership with Reliance Retail, ICICI Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

This makes Reliance Retail the first organized retail chain in India to enable in-store digital payments in Rupees (e₹). Digital Rupee payments are now available in Reliance Retail’s Freshpik store and are being gradually rolled out to all Reliance retailers across the country.

The Reserve Bank of India launched a retail digital rupee (e₹R) pilot with four banks in four cities on December 1, one month after testing a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC). As part of the pilot project, digital currencies will be issued in equal denominations and distributed through financial intermediaries, and users will be able to make transactions through digital wallets provided by participating banks.

Originally limited to 4 cities – Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Bhubaneswar – later expanded to 9 cities. Eight banks, including ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, have been confirmed to participate in the pilot project step by step.

After being the first to introduce dynamic QR-based in-store UPI payments, Reliance Retail, in continuance of its endeavor to create a convenient and seamless payment experience for customers, becomes the first enterprise retailer to adopt India’s digital currency acceptance,” Innoviti Technologies and Reliance Retail said in a statement on Thursday.

To date, Reliance Retail is the country’s leading retailer, operating in categories such as food and groceries, apparel, electronics, footwear, and more. Reliance Retail is a subsidiary of Reliance Retail Ventures Limited. RRVL operates a consolidated network of 17,225 stores through its subsidiaries and affiliates.

Reliance Retail’s technology partner, Innoviti Technologies, has developed this solution using state-of-the-art technology that integrates with the checkout billing system. Customers using the Digital Rupe app through ICICI Bank or Kotak Mahindra Bank need to scan a QR code on their terminal and enter a password to authorize payment via e₹-R.

This historic initiative of pioneering digital currency acceptance at our stores is in line with the company’s strategic vision of offering the power of choice to Indian consumers. 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,” said V.Subramaniam, Director, Reliance Retail Limited.

Rajeev Agrawal, founder, and CEO of Innoviti Technologies Private Limited said India’s digital payments revolution has led to an exponential increase in electronic transactions, but cash payments remain popular.

Digital Rupee fulfills the need of consumers who still prefer the trust, safety, and settlement finality of physical currency. Innoviti is excited to be the first to offer a robust technology platform on which individuals can now transact using the Digital Rupee with the same level of trust and ease as cash. Collaborating with Reliance Retail gives us the edge to create best-in-class solutions for the industry. Through the strategic support of Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI bank as our banking partners, we have been able to create payment acceptance of India’s Digital Rupee a reality today,” said Agrawal.

Innoviti is supported by Bessemer Venture Partners USA, FMO Netherlands, Panthera Growth Partners Singapore, Alumni Ventures USA, Catamaran Ventures, and Patni Advisors. Innoviti Technologies provides collaborative commerce solutions for enterprise sellers.