ECB Launches Workstreams To Draft Digital Euro Rulebook

March 20, 2024
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The European Central Bank (ECB) is establishing seven new workstreams to assist in drafting various sections of its rulebook for a potential digital euro.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is establishing seven new workstreams to assist in drafting various sections of its rulebook for a potential digital euro. 

The central bank has issued calls for experts in payments infrastructure and architecture, technical specifications and scheme management to apply. Each applicant will be nominated by a member of the Rulebook Development Group (RDG). 

The rulebook is being developed from several workstreams focusing on specific topics and involving market participants representing retailers, intermediaries and consumers, as well as Eurosystem representatives. 

The rulebook will set out the framework for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that would complement cash and which consumers and businesses would be able to use throughout the euro area. 

It aims to set common standards for a prospective digital euro to ensure pan-European reach and a consistent payment experience for users throughout the eurozone, expand domestic instant payment services to the entire euro area, and give the market freedom to develop new payment solutions. 

Last year, the ECB launched three workstreams, which drafted the first chapters of the rulebook covering standards compatibility, technical requirements, and identification and authentication. 

The Eurosystem is now inviting applications for the following workstreams: 

  1. Developing a proposal covering minimum user experience (UX) standards relating to the functions, operations and implementation of a digital euro. 
  2. Developing a proposal for testing and certification of payment and acceptance solutions, as well as the infrastructure that intermediaries will use within the ecosystem. 
  3. Developing a proposal for a rulebook section on risk management, identifying inherent risks for the different digital euro participants and proposing ways to mitigate them. 
  4. Drafting a section focused on interactions between individual user devices such as apps and cards and business acceptance devices, including terminals, websites, apps and ATMs, ensuring a consistent user experience for payments and other basic services. 
  5. Creating a proposal for a section on interactions between end users and payer intermediaries. This aims to ensure the compliance and interoperability of digital euro payments made by individual users for card and account-to-account payment products. 
  6. Drafting a proposal for a section on requirements for interactions between acceptance solutions and business user intermediaries, to ensure interoperability across the business user space. 
  7. Developing implementation specifications for interactions between intermediaries and payment schemes including settlement services, fraud risk management services, dispute management services and alias lookup services. 

Candidates are invited to submit their applications by April 5, 2024. 

The first step towards an ECB digital currency?

Finalising the rulebook is a key part of the preparation phase for the potential digital currency, which the ECB expects to run until October 2025. 

During this period the central bank also plans to select service providers, conduct further research on offline functions and draft a plan for testing and rollout. 

“The digital euro would not replace physical notes, and it would not be a form of investment,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos said

“So it would not compete with our bank accounts. We will decide on the exact limits at a later stage. The main message is that a digital euro would play a similar role to the physical euro.” 

The ECB has yet to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with launching a digital euro. The draft version of the rulebook will be subject to change to accommodate future adjustments and will be updated based on the outcome of the legislative process. 

The ECB’s Governing Council would only make a decision on whether to issue a digital euro after EU legislation has been adopted. 

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