In brief

  • The European Central Bank is asking the public about the kind of digital euro they want to use.
  • It's opened up a survey.
  • One of the questions? Should it rely on intermediaries?

Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, today opened up the matter of a digital euro to public consultation. One of the questions? Do Europeans want a digital euro that does not rely on intermediaries?

“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,” she tweeted today, posting a link to a survey.

Lagarde, who used to run the International Monetary Fund, said in a subsequent video that the survey means that “consumers and Europeans can actually express their preference and tell us whether they would be happy to use a digital euro just in the way they use a euro coin or a euro banknote, knowing that it is central bank money that is available and that they can rely upon.”

“We are still in the review and consideration stage,” she said.

The survey asks respondents to rank their preferences for a digital euro and answer such questions as: “What services, functionalities or use cases do you think are feasible and should be considered when developing a digital euro?”

The ECB’s survey describes “two approaches we can take to make a digital euro work, one that requires intermediaries to process the payment and one that doesn’t.”

In the first, the ECB describes a digital euro that “has no need for the central bank or an intermediary to be involved in the processing of every single payment.” 

This would “feel closer to cash payments, but in digital form – you would be able to use the digital euro even when not connected to the internet, and your privacy and personal data would be better protected.” 

In the second approach, intermediaries would record the transactions. The first approach takes a leaf out of crypto’s book: Bitcoin was built to end reliance on intermediaries.