The digital euro is in its final stages of its development, according to European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board Member Fabio Panetta, who recently ironed out some of the final details that the governing body analysed. 

When Panetta spoke in front of the Committee last January, he revealed that the ECB and the Eurosystem were looking into a dedicated digital euro app for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be housed under, connected with QR codes and contactless payment capabilities. 

Addressing the Committee again regarding the digital euro investigation, for one of the final times, Panetta outlined how the digital euro may be introduced to all European Union (EU) member countries, its availability and the payment preferences needed for it to succeed. 

The ECB Executive Board Member began proceedings by confirming that the Governing Council has endorsed a third set of design options for the digital euro, which will be decided upon once the investigation concludes. 

Panetta then went on to address how the ECB and Eurosytem will tackle the wide-ranging payment needs of all EU consumers, acknowledging that there is not one universally accepted payment method and therefore must be open to any and all options. 

He said: “There is currently no single European digital means of payment that is universally accepted across the entire euro area. It therefore comes as no surprise that Europeans see the ability to pay anywhere as the most important feature of a potential digital euro. 

“At the ECB, we have been investigating the technical solutions that would enable people to easily make payments in digital euro, anywhere in the euro area. But if we want the digital euro to replicate these cash-like features, we need a proper regulatory framework.”

The digital euro will also be given legal tender status by legislators if introduced, allowing it to become as readily available as possible for Europeans “anywhere in the euro area”. 

Panetta continued: “Individuals and merchants will expect to be able to obtain digital euro at their banks, just like they do today with cash.

“It should be simple for people to start using the digital euro, and there should be no need to change banks in order to do so. 

“So, both sides of the coin – widespread acceptance and broad access – are necessary to ensure the digital euro would be a public good that meets the expectations of consumers and merchants.”

During his conclusion, Panetta addressed what the final stages of the investigation entail, highlighting that it will ultimately fall on European legislators to decide whether or not the digital euro will become an official legal tender of the continent. 

The ECB have stated they remain committed to discussing all issues and enquiries regarding the CBDC and even outlined the next project phase to be launched next year, which will include further development and testing to provide the digital euro to wider society.