Fabio Panetta, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB), announced that the digital euro project, an initiative that seeks to digitize Europe’s fiat currency, was reaching its final stages of research, and stated that one of the first goals of the project is to establish it as a universal payment method.
No Single Digital Means of Payment
In an introductory statement given on April 24 before the committee on economic and monetary affairs of the European Parliament, Panetta explained that there was no single digital means of payment across the European Union. Panetta stated:
We have been investigating the technical solutions that would enable people to easily make payments in digital euro, anywhere in the euro area.
Furthermore, he declared that the digital euro could be given legal tender status by legislators, making all merchants capable of accepting digital payments obliged to accept it. On the other side of the spectrum, it would allow banks and payment processors to cut their reliance on other providers, allowing the construction of a “truly European” new platform.
Payment Sovereignty and Structural Design
The supposed importance this project has for the structure of payments in Europe has been previously explained by ECB President Christine Lagarde, when she stated that the digital euro was “key” for European payment autonomy. At the time, Lagarde emphasized that many of the payment alternatives used by Europeans, like applications and cards, weren’t necessarily based in Europe.
Panetta also talked about the ideal requirements that the digital euro should fulfill if launched, stating:
People should be able to pay and be paid in digital euro anywhere in the euro area, no matter which intermediary they are using to access the digital euro or which country they are in.
Panetta stated that the next phase of the project would include the development and testing of technical solutions tied to the digital euro, as well as working with the European Commission regarding legislative proposals on the issue.