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A digital euro

Our work aims to ensure that in the digital age citizens and firms continue to have access to the safest form of money, central bank money.

Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB

The digital euro would be like euro banknotes, but digital. It would be an electronic form of money, issued by the Eurosystem (the ECB and the national central banks of the euro area), and would be accessible to all citizens and firms.

A digital euro would not replace cash, but rather complement it. The Eurosystem will continue to ensure that all citizens across the euro area have access to cash.

A digital euro would give people an additional choice about how to pay and make it easier to do so, contributing to accessibility and inclusion.

Why a digital euro?

A digital euro would be a fast, easy and secure instrument for your daily payments. It would support the digitalisation of the European economy and actively encourage innovation in retail payments. The Eurosystem is exploring the benefits and risks of a digital euro, so that the currency continues to meet the needs of all euro area citizens.

Report on a digital euro

Thanks for sharing your opinion!

We are committed to involving the public in the development of a digital euro. This is why we ran a public consultation between October 2020 and January 2021 and conducted focus groups in all euro area countries between October and December 2021. The results will feed into the ongoing digital euro investigation phase.

Digital euro: listening to the public

Where are we now?

We will engage with European decision-makers and inform them regularly about our findings. Citizens, merchants and the payments industry will also be involved.

Fabio Panetta, ECB Executive Board member

We are now talking about what a digital euro might look like. This investigation phase started in October 2021 and will last for about two years, concluding in October 2023.

We are looking at how a digital euro could be designed and distributed to retailers and the public, as well as the impact it would have on the market and the changes to European legislation that might be needed.

Once the investigation phase is completed, we will decide whether to start developing a digital euro.

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Find out more about the market groups, experimentation work and technical documents

We’ve analysed the benefits and challenges of a digital euro

What might it look like?

Experts from the ECB and the national central banks of the euro area have laid down a number of basic requirements for a digital euro, such as easy accessibility, robustness, safety, efficiency, privacy and compliance with the law. These will help us to define what a digital euro might look like.

A digital euro would be designed to work together with private payment solutions, facilitating the provision of pan-European solutions and additional services to consumers.

Functional design possibilities

Will the ECB manage a digital euro?

The ECB is the custodian of the euro, be it as banknotes or in digital form, on behalf of the people of Europe.

We want to make sure the value of our money is preserved and that any form of digital euro is ultimately safeguarded and regulated by the central bank.

Technical and organisational approaches

Why would a digital euro not be a crypto-asset?

Crypto-assets are fundamentally different from central bank money: their prices are often volatile, which makes them hard to use as means of payment or units of account, and there is no public institution backing them.

People using a digital euro could have the same level of confidence as they would when using cash, since both forms of currency would be backed by a central bank.

Explainer: What is bitcoin?

A new horizon for pan-European payments

Payments are undergoing a fundamental change, and central banks have a key role to play in this process.

European payments must be underpinned by a competitive and innovative market capable of meeting consumer demand while preserving European sovereignty. In this context we have set out a comprehensive payments strategy for the digital age.

Our retail payments strategy

Podcast

The ECB Podcast: is it time for a digital euro?

What is a digital euro? What would its benefits be and how would it affect the way we make payments? When could it be ready? Our host Michael Steen discusses these questions and more with Ulrich Bindseil, who is responsible for market infrastructures and payments at the ECB.

More (available in English only)
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Find out more about the digital euro

Find the answers to all your questions

What consequences would issuing a digital euro have for the banking sector? Why do you suggest a cap on “tier one” deposits? We answer these questions and many others for you in detail.

FAQs on the digital euro

The importance of privacy

In our testing and examination of a possible digital euro we are looking at ways to protect privacy without relaxing standards that protect against illicit activities.

Analysis of privacy-enhancing techniques
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