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Digital euro

A digital euro would provide an anchor of stability for our money in the digital age.

We are working with the national central banks of the euro area to investigate whether to introduce a digital euro. It would be a central bank digital currency, an electronic equivalent to cash. And it would complement banknotes and coins, giving people an additional choice about how to pay.

What you need to know

What would it be?

A digital euro would offer an electronic means of payment that anyone could use in the euro area. It would be secure and user-friendly, like cash is today. As central bank money issued by the ECB, it would be different from “private money”, but you could also use a card or a phone app to pay with digital euro.

The digital euro and the importance of central bank money
Why might we need a digital euro?

We are thinking about launching a central bank digital currency in Europe to respond to the increasing demand for safe and trusted electronic payments. Having digital money issued by the central bank would provide an anchor of stability for the payment and monetary systems. A digital euro would also strengthen the monetary sovereignty of the euro area and foster competition and efficiency in the European payment sector.

Key objectives and design considerations
What would be the advantages and challenges?

As we are still investigating, we don't have all the details of the final proposal yet. But we have reflected quite a lot on the concept of a digital euro and its pros and cons. What is clear already is that a digital euro should be accessible, robust, safe, efficient and compliant with the law. We would also ensure the highest level of privacy.

Report on digital euro
Where do we stand?

This investigation phase started in October 2021 and is expected to take around two years, concluding in October 2023. We are looking at how a digital euro could be designed and distributed, as well as the impact it could have on the market. Then, we will decide whether to start the process of actually developing it.

Project timeline

Frequently Asked Questions

How would a digital euro help me? How would a digital euro be different from stablecoins and crypto-assets? Would a digital euro replace cash? Check out the answers to common questions here.

Are you a professional in the field?

Cooperation with stakeholders

Extensive cooperation with market actors, policymakers and legislators will ensure that a digital euro meets users’ needs. This is why we are launching a set of initiatives to engage with as many stakeholders as possible.

Stakeholder engagement
Documents and experimentation

The digital euro experimentation phase produced extensive documentation and detailed analyses of the work that took place. Have a look at our dedicated page to read up on topics that interest you.

For professional use

The digital euro in relation to...

… crypto-assets

A digital euro would not be a cryptocurrency, since it would be backed by a central bank. Central banks have a mandate to maintain the value of money, regardless of whether it is physical or digital. Crypto-assets are not backed or managed by any central institution. You have no guarantee that you will be able to exchange them for cash when you need to.

What is bitcoin?

… investments

A digital euro should mainly be used as a means of payment rather than an instrument for financial investments. We are examining this issue carefully to avoid negative consequences for the financial sector. The digital euro should be a public good that would benefit the economy and society as a whole.

The digital euro and the evolution of the financial system

… pan-European payments

The way we pay is undergoing a fundamental change, and central banks have a key role to play in this process. European payments must be supported by a competitive and innovative market capable of meeting consumer demands while preserving European sovereignty. To make this happen we have set out a comprehensive payments strategy for the digital age.

Our retail payments strategy

Podcast

The ECB Podcast - A digital euro: what, why, when? (part 1)

Do we need a digital euro, and why? What might it look like? And how would it differ from other means of payment? Our host Katie Ranger puts these questions to digital euro expert Evelien Witlox.

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