European Central Bank launches public consultation on digital euro

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde
LAGARDE: ECB’s plans for a digital euro are still in the ‘review and consideration’ stage

The European Central Bank (ECB) has launched an online survey that enables consumers and industry experts to express their priorities, preferences and concerns about the issuance of a digital euro as a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and means of payment in the euro area.

ECB president Christine Lagarde announced the survey in a tweet and short video, saying: “We are still in the review and consideration stage, but we’ve just launched a public consultation so that consumers and Europeans can actually express their preference and tell us whether they would be happy to use a digital euro just in the way they use a euro coin or a euro banknote, knowing that it is central bank money that is available and that they can rely upon.”

Consumers taking part in the survey are asked to rank the features a digital euro should offer in order of importance, identify challenges that might prevent them from using it and indicate what user features would ensure it “is accessible for people of all ages, including those who do not have a bank account or [who] have disabilities”.

The survey also describes two approaches to how a digital euro might work: “one that requires intermediaries to process the payment and one that doesn’t”.

“If we design a digital euro that has no need for the central bank or an intermediary to be involved in the processing of every single payment, this means that using a digital euro would feel closer to cash payments, but in digital form – you would be able to use the digital euro even when not connected to the internet, and your privacy and personal data would be better protected,” the ECB explains in the survey.

“The other approach is to design a digital euro with intermediaries recording the transaction. This would work online and allow broader potential for additional services to be provided to citizens and businesses, creating innovation opportunities and possible synergies with existing services.

“For example, it could make it easier to integrate a digital euro into currently available electronic banking services and applications.”

The survey also includes questions for “experts working in the financial and technology industries so that we can assess how a digital euro could be provided safely and efficiently”.

“We want to make sure that its design would not inadvertently constrain industry-led solutions aimed at providing additional features or services which might also benefit citizens.”

“We would also like to understand what role you or your organisation could play in facilitating or encouraging the use of a digital euro as an effective complement to cash,” the survey explains.

The results of the survey will be published on the ECB website.

The central bank announced plans to hold a period of public consultation on the introduction of a digital euro earlier this month.

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