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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. 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.

FAQs on digital euro


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Why a digital euro?

A digital euro would be a fast, easy and secure instrument for your daily payments. One of the key objectives of a digital euro issued by the Eurosystem would be to provide a monetary anchor in the digital age, serving as a public good. It could foster financial innovation and improve the overall efficiency of the payments system. 

Report on a digital euro

What might it look like?

The digital euro can only be successful if it is used by Europeans in their daily life. The design of the digital euro is therefore very important and must add value to existing payment solutions. Experts from the Eurosystem have set out a number of basic requirements for a digital euro, such as accessibility, robustness, safety, efficiency, privacy and compliance with the law. These will help us define what a digital euro might look like. 

Key objectives and design considerations

Will the ECB manage a digital euro?

For many years central banks have provided the monetary base (e.g. cash) and the private sector has provided customers with payment solutions (e.g. credit cards). Since a digital euro would ultimately be safeguarded by the ECB, it would allow this hybrid model to continue. Citizens can convert private (commercial bank) money to public (central bank) money at any time, using central bank money for payments.

Technical and organisational approaches

Your needs and opinions matter to us

We are committed to involving the public in the development of a digital euro. Research shows that customers’ main considerations are wide acceptance, ease of use, low costs, high speed, security and consumer protection. Merchants are looking for low costs, ease of use and integration with existing systems.

Public consultation on a digital euro

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

Digital euro and crypto-assets

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?

Digital euro and investments

The digital euro is meant to be a means of payment and not a form of investment. We are seeking to avoid sudden large shifts from bank deposits to the digital euro. This could otherwise disrupt efficient lending by banks to consumers and companies, potentially undermining the banking system in difficult times. 

The digital euro and the evolution of the financial system

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? We discuss these questions and more with Ulrich Bindseil, who is responsible for market infrastructures and payments at the ECB.

More (available in English only)
SEE ALSO

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 does the ECB 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

We are looking at ways to ensure privacy without compromising on standards protecting against illicit activities.

Analysis of privacy-enhancing techniques
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