The European Central Bank has published the results of a public consultation on a potential digital euro as the institution approaches the decision to formally study such an initiative.
According to an announcement on Wednesday, the ECB received more than 8,200 responses to its public consultation on the digital euro – a personal record for the bank for participating in a public consultation. Of the total responses, 47% came from Germany, a significant number also from Italy and France, representing respectively 15% and 11% of the total responses.
The majority of respondents said privacy was the most desired feature for a potential digital future, accounting for 43% of all citizens and professionals participating in the consultation. “Privacy is seen as the most important feature of a digital euro by citizens and professionals participating in the consultation, in particular traders and other businesses,” the ECB noted in its report.
Following the consultation, respondents noted that security and the ability to pay in the euro area were the top priorities at 18% and 11%, respectively. 9% of respondents stressed the importance of removing additional costs, while 8% stressed the need for offline usability of a digital euro.
“Most of the citizens in the sample opt for privacy, although this would restrict usability to offline transactions and limit the alternative of receiving additional innovative services or even a combination of offline and online functionality,” noted the ECB.
Launched in October 2020, the ECB’s public consultation on the digital euro confirmed the ECB’s initial findings, making a valuable contribution to the Eurosystem’s decision in mid-2021 to open a formal investigation into one euro digital. Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, said:
“A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs of Europeans. We will do our best to ensure that the digital euro meets the expectations of citizens highlighted during the public consultation. “
ECB President Christine Lagarde says the whole process of adopting a digital euro could take up to four years if the ECB’s Governing Council and the European Parliament decide to move forward with the initiative.
The issue of user privacy has become one of the biggest issues associated with central bank digital currencies, puzzling governments on how to prevent illicit financial activity while maintaining privacy.
While countries like the United States prefer not to go ahead with a CBDC until this issue is resolved, other countries like China have actively experimented with a CBDC. After launching the first digital yuan pilots in 2020, the Chinese central bank described its “controllable anonymity” approach, which aims to provide maximum privacy protection for CBDC users in China.