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Digital euro would maintain freedom to choose how Europeans pay - ECB

Digital euro would maintain freedom to choose how Europeans pay - ECB

With Europe inching towards the issuance of a digital euro, the ECB has embarked on a charm offensive, taking to media outlets across the continent to reassure citizens that the new payments option will compliment, not replace, cash and provide them with greater freedom of choice.

While a final decision on issuing a digital euro has yet to be made, the ECB last year moved onto a two year preparation phase ahead of any launch, which would come in 2026 at the earliest.

In an article published in a host of publications, executive board member Piero Cipollone makes the case for a digital euro, noting that "we do not yet have a cash equivalent for making digital payments, which limits our freedom in an increasingly digital age".

Currently, writes Cipollone, Europeans are reliant on electronic payment options from outside the continent, with US giants Visa and Mastercard dominating the card market.

"A digital euro would combine the convenience of digital payments with cash-like features," writes Cipollone, adding that it could be used in shops, for e-commerce, P2P payments and offline.

He continues: "The digital euro would make it easier for euro area firms to offer pan-European digital payment solutions. This would strengthen competition in a market currently dominated by a few non-European players, thereby lowering costs for merchants and consumers."

Other benefits, claims the ECB man, include greater privacy than commercial payment options and financial inclusion, with no one left behind.

"More than just a payment option, a digital euro would bring Europeans closer in an increasingly digital and unstable world. It would make our lives easier, while preserving our freedom of choice," writes Cipollone.

The PR push comes as the ECB publishes a progress report on the preparation phase.

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