The European Central Bank has released the results of a public consultation on a potential digital euro as the institution gets closer to deciding whether to formally consider 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 note for the bank to participate in a public consultation. 47% of the total responses came from Germany, with a significant proportion also coming from Italy and France, corresponding to 15% and 11% of the total responses, respectively.
The majority of respondents indicated that data protection was the most desirable feature for a potential upcoming digital euro. This made up 43% of all citizens and professionals who participated in the consultation. “Data protection is seen as the most important feature of a digital euro by both citizens and professionals taking part in the consultation, in particular traders and other businesses,” the ECB noted in its report.
In the consultation, 18% and 11% of respondents said that security and solvency are top priorities across the euro area. 9% of the respondents emphasized the importance of eliminating additional costs, while 8% emphasized that a digital euro must be usable offline.
“Most of the citizens in the sample choose data protection, even if it would limit the usability to offline transactions and the alternative of receiving additional innovative services, or even with a combination of offline and online functions,” noted the ECB notes.
The ECB’s public consultation on the digital euro, launched in October 2020, confirmed the ECB’s initial results and provided valuable input for the Eurosystem’s decision in mid-2021 to open a formal investigation into a digital euro. ECB board member Fabio Panetta said:
“A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs of Europeans. We will do our best to ensure that a digital euro meets the expectations of citizens highlighted in the public consultation. “
According to ECB President Christine Lagarde, the whole process of introducing a digital euro could take up to four years if the Governing Council and the European Parliament decide to move the initiative forward.
The issue of user privacy has emerged as one of the biggest issues related to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), confusing governments on how to prevent illegal financial activity while maintaining confidentiality.
While countries like the United States prefer not to move forward with a CBDC until this issue is resolved, other countries like China have been actively experimenting 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 to China’s CBDC users.