ECB to safeguard banks before digital euro launch

Spain’s deputy central bank governor, Margarita Delgado, said the European Central Bank (ECB) is taking a cautious approach when considering the launch of a digital euro. Before making a final decision, the ECB intends to assess how the digital euro might affect the banking system within the euro zone.


In a speech published on the Bank of Spain’s website, Margarita Delgado highlighted that the digital euro could effectively tackle two major developments in the financial landscape. Firstly, as digital payments become more prevalent, there’s a need to ensure that people can continue to access central bank money in a digital context. Secondly, with the rise of digital assets, a digital euro could offer a payment solution built on European infrastructure, providing acceptance throughout the entire euro area.

The ECB’s decision regarding the digital euro is expected in October. The primary goal of introducing a digital euro is to address the shortage of European payment service providers. This move aligns with a broader initiative proposed by the European Union in June to enhance competition in the payments sector and legally establish the digital euro as an accepted form of payment.

Despite these positive aspects, Delgado, who also sits on the ECB’s supervisory board, argued: “The issuance of a digital euro should not be in detriment to the stability of the financial system.” She furthered that “we cannot ignore the elements that might impact the competitiveness and profitability of the banks.”

A European Central Bank (ECB) official said earlier that the regulator wants to make the digital version of the euro currency “free to use and available to all.” However, ECB does not want to keep any personal data on its users or let people make regular payments to cover transactions like bills or rent.

ECB board member Fabio Panetta gave assurance that the digital currency wouldn’t disrupt the bloc’s financial system in a speech to the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

The digital euro has been in an investigation phase for more than a year, but it’s not clear yet how it will be designed and what its business model will comprise. The ECB’s two-year investigation into a central bank digital currency (CBDC) will end in the fall, at which time the EU leaders will decide whether to take a digital euro to the next phase.

The ECB official suggested that a key feature is the ability to “pay anywhere,” including brick-and-mortar and online stores. Physical stores are the most important market segment for digital payments, he adds, accounting for more than 40 billion transactions in the euro area.