Close up of the sign at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, 10 May 2017. Shutterstock
The European Central Bank (ECB) has published the results of the digital euro public consultation, revealing privacy was a big concern to Europeans.
According to the announcement, privacy was considered the most important feature for a potential digital euro, followed by security and the ability to be used across the Eurozone. The report showed that 43% of all respondents wanted their payments to remain private, especially merchants and other companies. Fabio Panetta, an ECB Executive Board member, summarised in a statement:
“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.”
While it is yet to be decided if the ECB will launch the digital euro, this consultation set a record with regards to public participation. Even though 47% of all responses came from Germany, the ECB still received more than 8,200 responses from citizens in the Euro Zone.
Around a quarter of the participants also expressed their desire for the digital euro to be usable outside the euro area, though with limits, and that it should make cross-border payments faster and cheaper. For 18% security was outlined as the top priority, while 8% emphasised the need for offline usability.
In March, ECB President Christine Lagarde said in an interview that the ECB Governing Council will be the one to make the decision if a digital euro should be created, after using the report as a guide. The public consultation will now be sent to the European Parliament for consideration. Lagarde further explained that the entire process of developing, testing, and releasing a digital euro could take around four years.
While the ECB is pondering the question of a digital euro, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to explore ways to trade, settle and sell digital bonds using blockchain technology. Reportedly, the EIB has already tasked major global banks Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and Société Générale with looking into so-called digital bond in euros.