The European Central Bank (ECB) today announced the conclusion of its public consultation on the digital euro. A total of 8,221 citizens, firms and industry associations submitted responses to an online questionnaire, a record for ECB public consultations.

The public consultation was launched in October 2020, following the publication of the Eurosystem report on a digital euro. The ECB will publish a comprehensive analysis of the public consultation in the spring.

An initial analysis of raw data shows that privacy of payments ranked highest among the requested features of a potential digital euro (41% of replies), followed by security (17%) and pan-European reach (10%).

The Eurosystem task force, bringing together experts from the ECB and 19 national central banks of the euro area, identified possible scenarios that would require the issuance of a digital euro. These scenarios include an increased demand for electronic payments in the euro area that would require a European risk-free digital means of payment, a significant decline in the use of cash as a means of payment in the euro area, the launch of global private means of payment that might raise regulatory concerns and pose risks for financial stability and consumer protection, and a broad take-up of central bank digital currencies issued by other central banks.

A digital euro would be an electronic form of central bank money accessible to all citizens and firms – like banknotes, but in a digital form – to make their daily payments in a fast, easy and secure way. It would complement cash, not replace it. The Eurosystem will continue to issue cash in any case, the ECB explains.

A digital euro is set to combine the efficiency of a digital payment instrument with the safety of central bank money. The protection of privacy would be a key priority, so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age.