European Central Bank May Launch Its Own Digital Currency if Cash Usage Drops

Francisco Memoria

The European Central Bank (ECB) is seemingly considering launching its own cryptocurrency if the private sector fails to create an efficient solution for cross-border payments, and if cash usage drops.

According to a paper published this week, the ECB plans to accelerate the development of its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) if cash usage drops across Europe. The continent currently has an ECB-backed project for real-time payments, known as TIPS, but it has so far been met with caution by commercial banks.

Cash itself remains a popular means of payment in Europe, but the document notes that “signs of a future decline in cash usage could be a catalyst in accelerating central bank efforts in the area of central bank digital currency.” The ECB has been focusing more on digital currencies after social media giant Facebook announced it’s looking to launch its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The ECB’s document, which set to be discussed by EU finance ministers, reads:

If industry efforts fall short of developing an innovative and efficient pan-European payment solution, the social need for it could potentially be met by issuing a central bank digital currency.

It further notes that an ECB-backed digital currency could have “far-reaching implications” for the financial system. Not only could it alter the way monetary policy is transmitted, but it could also render commercial banks redundant as people would be able to open accounts directly with the ECB.

While various nations mull whether launching their own digital currencies is a good idea, China is reportedly getting ready to soon launch its own, after years of development. The digital currency will, according to an official from the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) provide users with “controlled anonymity.”

Featured image via Pixabay.