A digital euro

Digitalisation has spread to every corner of our lives and transformed how we pay. In this new era, a digital euro would guarantee that citizens in the euro area can maintain costless access to a simple, universally accepted, safe and trusted means of payment. - European Central Bank

The digital euro would still be a euro: like banknotes but digital. It would be an electronic form of money issued by the Eurosystem (the ECB and national central banks) and accessible to all citizens and firms.

A digital euro would not replace cash, but rather complement it. The Eurosystem will continue to ensure that you have access to cash across the euro area.

A digital euro would give you an additional choice about how to pay and make it easier to do so, contributing to accessibility and inclusion.

Why a digital euro?

A digital euro would be a fast, easy and secure instrument for your daily payments.

It would support the digitalisation of the European economy and actively encourage innovation in retail payments.

The ECB and the national central banks of the euro area are exploring the benefits and risks so that money continues to serve Europeans well.

What are other benefits of a digital euro?

A digital euro would combine the efficiency of a digital payment instrument with the safety of central bank money.

It would help to deal with situations in which people no longer prefer cash, and it would avoid dependence on digital means of payment issued and controlled from outside the euro area, which might undermine financial stability and monetary sovereignty.

The protection of privacy would be a key priority, so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age.

When will it be ready?

In July 2021 we decided to launch a digital euro project. This doesn’t mean that we will necessarily issue a digital euro, but rather that we will get ready to possibly issue it.

What next?

We are now talking about what a digital euro might look like. This investigation phase started in October 2021 and will take two years.

We will look 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.

The decision on whether to develop a digital euro will be taken on the basis of this investigation phase.

What might it look like?

Experts from the ECB and the national central banks of the euro area have laid down a number of basic requirements for a digital euro, such as easy accessibility, robustness, safety, efficiency, privacy and compliance with the law. These will help us to define what a digital euro might look like.

A digital euro would be designed to work together with private payment solutions, facilitating the provision of pan-European solutions and additional services to consumers.

Will the ECB manage a digital euro?

The ECB is the custodian of the euro, be it as banknotes or in digital form, on behalf of the people of Europe.

We want to make sure the value of our money is preserved and that any form of digital euro is ultimately safeguarded and regulated by the central bank.

Why would a digital euro not be a crypto-asset?

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 with cash, since they would be both backed by a central bank.

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.

A digital euro for the digital era

A digital euro would be a digital symbol of progress and integration in Europe, said Executive Board member Fabio Panetta when presenting the report on a digital euro.

Since the introduction of the euro, the ECB has been responsible for preserving citizens’ trust in our currency. Together with cash, a digital euro would be accessible to all and offer people greater choice in how they pay.