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The European Central Bank has announced the findings of a public consultation on a possible digital euro, as the organisation approaches a decision on whether to officially investigate such an initiative.
According to a Wednesday announcement, the ECB received more than 8,200 responses to its public digital euro consultation — a personal record for the bank regarding participation in a public consultation. Of the total responses, 47% came from Germany, with a significant amount also coming from Italy and France, accounting for 15% and 11% of total responses, respectively.
The majority of respondents said that privacy was the most desired feature for a potential upcoming digital euro, accounting for 43% of all citizens and professionals taking part in the consultation. “Privacy is considered the most important feature of a digital euro by both citizens and professionals participating in the consultation, especially merchants and other companies,” the ECB noted in its report.
According to the results of the survey, respondents ranked stability and the freedom to pay as their top priorities across the eurozone, with 18% and 11%, respectively. 9 percent of respondents emphasised the importance of eliminating extra expenses, while 8% emphasised the need for a digital euro to be usable offline.
“Most citizens in the sample opt for privacy, even if that would restrict usability to offline transactions and limit the alternative of receiving additional innovative services or even with a combination of both offline and online functionalities,” the ECB noted.
Launched in October 2020, the ECB’s digital euro public consultation has confirmed the ECB’s initial findings, providing valuable input for Eurosystem’s decision in mid-2021 on starting a formal investigation into a digital euro. ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta stated:
“A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs of Europeans. We will do our best to ensure that a digital euro meets the expectations of citizens highlighted in the public consultation.”
According to ECB President Christine Lagarde, if the ECB’s governing council and the European Parliament plan to go forwards with the proposal, the whole process of implementing a digital euro could take up to four years.
The issue of consumer protection has arisen as one of the most difficult issues associated with central bank digital currencies, perplexing governments as to how to deter illegal financial activity while maintaining secrecy.
Although some nations, such as the United States, tend not to proceed with a CBDC until this issue is resolved, others, such as China, have been aggressively experimenting with a CBDC. The Chinese central bank characterised its “controllable anonymity” approach after introducing the first digital yuan pilots in 2020, with the aim of providing full privacy security to China’s CBDC users.