Euro digital, the ECB project comes to life: 24 months to study the measure
The digital euro project gets to the heart: the Governing Council of the European Central Bank has launched the investigation phase for the currency in bits. After the decision, the president of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, joined the meeting and expressed his full support for the project, the ECB note reads.
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The investigation phase will last 24 months and will serve to address the key issues relating to design and distribution. A digital euro, underlines the ECB, must be able to meet the needs of Europeans and at the same time help prevent illegal activities and avoid any unwanted impact on financial stability and monetary policy.
The investigation does not condition a future decision on the possible issue of a digital euro, which will only come later. In any case, a digital euro would complement the cash, not replace it.
Index of topics
• Lagarde: The safest digital currency is that of the ECB
• Focus on use cases for an accessible and efficient currency
• Market impacts under the lens
• The EU’s steps towards the digital euro
Lagarde: The safest digital currency is that of the ECB
“It has been nine months since we published our report on the digital euro. In this period of time we have conducted further analyzes, asked for the contribution of citizens and professionals and conducted some tests, with encouraging results. All this led us to decide to take a step forward and start the digital euro project, “says ECB President Christine Lagarde. “Our work aims to ensure that in the digital age, citizens and businesses continue to have access to the safest form of money, that of the central bank.”
The ECB will work together with the European Parliament and other European decision makers and will inform them regularly on the results of the investigation, said Fabio Panetta, member of the ECB council and chairman of the high-level task force on the digital euro. Citizens, merchants and the payment industry will also be involved in the works.
Focus on use cases for an accessible and efficient currency
During the investigation phase, the Eurosystem will focus on a possible functional design based on user needs. It will involve focus groups and will include prototyping and conceptual work. The investigation phase will examine the use cases that a digital euro should provide as a priority to achieve its objectives: a risk-free, accessible and efficient form of digital money governed by the central bank.
The project will also serve to shed light on changes to the EU legislative framework that may be needed to support the use of digital currency.
Market impacts under the lens
The investigation phase will also have to evaluate the possible impact of the digital euro on the market, identifying the design options that guarantee privacy and avoid risks for citizens, banks and the Eurozone economy.
Finally, the business model for “supervised intermediaries within the digital euro ecosystem” will be defined.
A market advisory group will take into consideration the views of potential users and distributors regarding the digital euro; these views will also be discussed within the Euro Retail Payments Board.
The EU’s steps towards the digital euro
On 22 September the European Central Bank registered the “Digital Euro” trademark at the EU Intellectual Property Office. This is the first step towards the creation of a digital currency that supports the euro on paper and in money.
At a hearing before the ECON Commission of the European Parliament, Fabio Panetta said that Europe must be found “ready” with “a form of money issued by the central bank that would complement, not replace, cash”.
In January Christine Lagarde announced that the Eurozone will have the digital euro, within a time frame of no more than 5 years – possibly even less. “In the world of fintech, things move at great speed – explained Lagarde – so we must be ready but always having safety in the foreground. Looking at the experiences in the rest of the world, in China, where ‘Chinese-scale’ experiments are underway, it has taken five years from the first project to today. So, as far as we are concerned, it will not happen tomorrow, it will take time, but we will have the digital euro. Which will not supplant, but will flank the banknotes. And I hope it won’t take more than five years, but who knows where the continuous acceleration in the fintech world will take us. The digital euro certainly responds to the strong demand from European citizens “.