ECB concludes digital euro consultation phase

The European Central Bank (ECB) has concluded its public consultation on the potential for a digital euro currency after record numbers of submissions.

The ECB said it would now analyse in detail responses from the 8,221 citizens, firms and industry associations who have completed an online questionnaire since the consultation launched in October last year.

The consultation followed the publication of the Eurosystem report on the potential for a digital euro currency, as digital assets, stablecoin and cryptocurrency experience rising adoption for electronic payments and as an asset class across Eurozone economies.

The ECB said it will publish a comprehensive analysis of the public consultation in the spring, which will serve as an important input for the ECB’s Governing Council when deciding whether to launch a digital euro project.

An initial analysis of raw data shows that privacy of payments ranked highest among the requested features of a potential digital euro (41 per cent of replies), followed by security (17 per cent) and pan-European reach (10 per cent).

“The high number of responses to our survey shows the great interest of Europe’s citizens and firms in shaping the vision of a digital euro,” said Fabio Panetta, member of the ECB’s Executive Board and chair of the task force on a digital euro. “The opinions of citizens, businesses and all stakeholders are of utmost importance for us as we assess which use cases a digital euro might best serve.”

The Eurosystem task force, which comprises experts from the ECB and 19 national central banks of the euro area, identified possible scenarios that would require the issuance of a digital euro.

In a statement the ECB said these scenarios include: “an increased demand for electronic payments in the euro area that would require a European risk-free digital means of payment, a significant decline in the use of cash as a means of payment in the euro area, the launch of global private means of payment that might raise regulatory concerns and pose risks for financial stability and consumer protection, and a broad take-up of central bank digital currencies issued by other central banks.”

A digital euro would be an electronic form of central bank money accessible to all citizens and firms – like banknotes, but in a digital form.

The ECB said the currency would be intended to complement cash, not replace it, with the Eurosystem continuing to issue cash in any case.

“A digital euro would combine the efficiency of a digital payment instrument with the safety of central bank money. The protection of privacy would be a key priority, so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age,” the statement added.

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