- ECB President Christine Lagarde has announced a survey in which users of the euro can offer their thoughts on a digital euro
- The ECB has been hesitant to develop a digital euro so far
- The bank’s hand has been forced by the coronavirus into moving ahead with initial plans
A retail version of a digital euro could be on the cards after Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), announced a survey on the subject amid talk of a “new model” to deal with the ongoing banking issues caused by the coronavirus.
Public Survey Part of Consultation Stage
In a tweet thread discussing the future of finance in Europe, Lagarde said that the ECB had “started exploring the possibility of launching a digital euro”, which of course is no secret – the ECB began discussions on the matter in 2019.
We’ve started exploring the possibility of launching a digital euro. As Europeans are increasingly turning to digital in the ways they spend, save and invest, we should be prepared to issue a digital euro, if needed. I’m also keen to hear your views on it https://t.co/0ZuU2ZZgCp pic.twitter.com/CoY5sN7Yoz
— Christine Lagarde (@Lagarde) November 1, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) plans worldwide however, with the impact made clear by virtue of the fact that in September 2018, then ECB president Mario Draghi said there was no “concrete need” for a digital euro and that the ECB had no plans to issue one.
Times have clearly changed, evidence by Lagarde’s announcement of a public consultation on the matter of a digital euro, although her language was still notably cagey:
As Europeans are increasingly turning to digital in the ways they spend, save and invest, we should be prepared to issue a digital euro, if needed.
ECB Still Hesitant on Digital Euro
Lagarde asks that Europeans take the survey in order to “express their preference” over using a digital euro compared to a euro note or coin as part of the ongoing “review and consideration stage”. She is clear to point out that it is a “central bank money that is available and that they can rely upon”, presumably in comparison with existing cryptocurrencies which are notoriously volatile.
The results of the survey could go some way to dictating policy on the matter if a strong preference in either direction is expressed, although it is obvious that the ECB doesn’t really want to engage in creating and operating a digital euro unless it absolutely has to.