The recent bank collapses and bailouts have highlighted the fragility of the banking system and raised concerns about the safety of our bank deposits. In this context, the digital euro presents an opportunity to reimagine our monetary system in a way that prioritises the interests of people and society!
Together with the Veblen Institute, we have published our position paper ‘A digital euro for the people’ to contribute to the design and development of a digital currency that truly serves people as a public good.
How is the digital euro designed by the ECB?
The digital euro represents an opportunity to develop a public digital alternative to private bank deposits and make money universally accessible and safe. However, the current proposal by the European Central Bank (ECB) heavily relies on private financial intermediaries, which poses limitations on the accessibility and cost of the digital euro. It also discusses putting significant limits on the amount of digital euros that can be held, making it less attractive to people. By incorporating the interests of the banking lobby into its design, the ECB risks neglecting the development of an appealing and public digital alternative to private bank deposits.
How should the digital euro work?
The digital euro project will be the result of political choices that will determine its policy objectives. Ahead of the upcoming legislative proposal, policymakers need to make sure that they consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including ordinary people, civil society, academia and financial institutions. With this paper, we offer a civil society perspective and share key policy objectives that should guide the design of the digital euro to truly benefit people and society.
In the short term, the digital euro should:
- Be universally accessible. People should be able to access digital euros through a diverse range of intermediaries, which include non-profit and public entities.
- Be free of cost for users. Any future legislative framework on the digital euro should include a list of basic services that should be provided for free to users, such as opening and managing an account and the provision of a payment instrument (e.g. a card).
- Offer a high level of privacy and data protection. Cash, which is fully anonymous, should be used as the baseline when developing the digital euro.
- Have a clear European Central Bank branding. Clear branding will help to differentiate public digital euros from private bank deposits.
- Bring resilience to the payment system. By providing an offline value-based option, and by ensuring that the digital euro’s legal and technical core infrastructure is public and works independently of any private system, we can offer an alternative to existing payment rails and increase resiliency in case of outages.
The digital euro is also an opportunity to improve financial stability, transform banking and enhance monetary policy. The design of the digital euro should be flexible enough to allow for the achievement of these long-term goals.
The ECB is still considering the feedback it received on the plan, and is committed to making the digital euro a success. However, it remains to be seen whether the ECB will be able to address the concerns of the people and civil society in terms of making the digital euro a truly public good.
It is crucial to seize the opportunity presented by the digital euro to establish a safer, more inclusive monetary system. Only by designing it in alignment with people’s interests can we ensure its success and harness its full potential!