NEW DELHI: India is set to roll out free currency exchanges in new markets as part of efforts to spur economic growth and boost the rupee, the government said on Tuesday.
The finance ministry said in a statement that the first phase of the scheme will be rolled out from next month, and a second phase will begin from the end of the year.
It said the first stage of the programme is expected to provide free exchange of cash and other currency in five new markets, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Delhi.
India has about 15.7 million people who currently use cash, the highest in the world, and the government is trying to encourage them to adopt digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ether.
India had earlier announced plans to offer a cashless economy by 2019.
The central bank said in March it had given the go-ahead for a national digital currency called digital currency (CED), and in March said it would offer CEDs to citizens to use to exchange for cash.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had earlier said it was “ready to roll-out the digital currency ecosystem in India”, but that it would take time to scale up the rollout.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, however, has said that there are currently no plans to introduce cashless payments by 2019, despite the country having about 4.5 million people using cash.