ECB President: Europe Has Fallen Behind in the Digital Payments Game

ECB President: Europe Has Fallen Behind in the Digital Payments Game


A European Central Bank (ECB) panel tasked with exploring a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is set to reveal its findings in the near future, followed by a public consultation, said ECB President Christine Lagarde.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bundesbank’s conference on banking and payments in the digital world Thursday, Lagarde addressed the competition to dominate payments on a global scale and considerations for a euro-zone retail CBDC.

Lagarde said a digital euro would allow the bloc to be at the cutting edge of innovation, but the lack of payments integration in Europe indicated that foreign providers have taken the lead. Economies around the world are looking into CBDCs and the creation of digital payment ecosystems, while China has become a leader in the space. 

“Europe has fallen behind in this competition,” Lagarde said. 

The ECB set up a taskforce in early 2020 to explore what a digital euro would look like. In May, ECB executive board member Yves Mersch told CoinDesk that the taskforce was specifically looking into a retail CBDC (one that could be used by the public to purchase goods and services) as opposed to a wholesale currency (that can only be used by financial institutions). Lagarde confirmed this at Thursday’s event. 

“Digital wholesale money is not new, as banks have been able to access central bank money for decades. But new technology can be used to make settling financial transactions more efficient. It also opens the possibility of a retail CBDC, which would be very

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