The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans to use non-bank payment system operators, including third-party payment app providers, to make the e-rupee more accessible to retail users, it said on Friday.

The RBI piloted its central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2023 but only allowed banks to offer these tokens, which led to subdued transaction volumes.

It has now proposed that non-bank payment system operators, which include third-party payment app providers like PhonePe, Google Pay and Paytm, offer the e-rupee through CBDC wallets.

"This is expected to enhance access and expand choices available to users apart from testing the resiliency of the CBDC platform to handle multi-channel transactions," the RBI said in its Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies.

The necessary changes will be made to the system to facilitate this, the central bank added.

The RBI has made the change to help lift transaction volumes for the retail CBDC, a source familiar with the pilot said.

The process is still in the early stages and the third-party apps will have to seek the RBI's approval to offer CBDC wallets, the source added.

The source did not wish to be named as he was not authorised to speak with the media. The RBI did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

India's e-rupee has been devised as a digital alternative to physical cash and uses distributed-ledger technology.

To boost the e-rupee's transactions, the RBI has introduced new features and widened its usage, including linking it to Unified Payment Interface (UPI), the country's popular real-time payments system, and introducing programmability, which enables targeted cash transfers, such as to farmers.

Indian banks disbursed some employee benefits through the e-rupee in December, helping the RBI meet its target of one million daily transactions by end-2023, Reuters reported in January. (Reporting by Siddhi Nayak and Jaspreet Kalra in Mumbai; Editing by Savio D'Souza)