EU in Final ‘Investigative’ Stage for Digital Currency

Originally published April 24, 2023 10:30 am PDT

The European Central Bank (ECB) has entered the final stage of the investigation phase for the digital euro project.

In a statement given to the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, ECB Executive Board Member Fabio Panetta emphasized the need for a digital euro that is widely available, easy to use, and accessible to all citizens of the euro area.

“Everyone across the euro area should be able to use it for day-to-day payments: online, in shops or from person to person,” he said.

Panetta noted that the ECB has investigated technical solutions that would enable people to make payments in digital euro anywhere in Europe.

“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,” he stated.

The digital euro is envisioned as an evolution of cash in the digital sphere, complementing physical cash and maintaining its role as a monetary anchor in the digital era: “With cash, central banks already provide a means of payment that is risk-free, widely accessible and easy to use, and that leaves no-one behind. But the rapid digitalisation of our economies requires us to complement cash with its evolution in the digital sphere: a digital euro,” Panetta explained.

The ECB has been working on design options for the digital euro, holding focus groups with potential users to gather their opinions on the features a digital wallet should possess.

“We have also held focus groups to hear from potential users of a digital euro and find out what they think about the different features a digital wallet should have,” said Panetta, adding that “if we want the digital euro to replicate these cash-like features, we need a proper regulatory framework.”

In the United States, newly-announced 2024 Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.), has expressed concern over the Federal Reserve’s upcoming launch of its “FedNow” Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), set to be introduced in July.

“CBDCs grease the slippery slope to financial slavery and political tyranny,” he tweeted earlier this month, arguing that such a digital currency structure would allow the government to surveil all financial transactions, removing the anonymity provided by cash transactions.

RFK Jr. also suggested that central banks could impose limits on transactions and even decide where and when individuals can spend their money.

“While cash transactions are anonymous, a #CBDC will allow the government to surveil all our private financial affairs,” he said. “The central bank will have the power to enforce dollar limits on our transactions restricting where you can send money, where you can spend it, and when money expires.”

Kennedy Jr. went on to say that a CBDC that is “tied to digital ID and social credit score will allow the government to freeze your assets or limit your spending to approved vendors if you fail to comply with arbitrary diktats, i.e. vaccine mandates.”