ECB Looks For Tech Experts For Digital Euro

July 12, 2022
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The European Central Bank (ECB) is inviting technology experts to take part in online technical talks to explore options for the design of a central bank digital currency.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is inviting technology experts to take part in online technical talks to explore options for the design of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The ECB, now a year into its digital euro investigation, has made a new call out for tech experts to help it develop the eurozone’s version of a CBDC.

The talks will focus on the large-scale application of privacy-enhancing technologies in the settlement of retail payments.

Privacy has been a key topic of concern since the ECB set out on this project. It scored highest when the ECB published its 2020 public consultation on the issue, and has also been a subject that has been flagged by lawmakers on the European Parliament’s influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

In this latest part of the project, the ECB will explore how the payment asset issuer can exert control over settlement rules and maintain adequate, tamper-proof evidence of the amounts in circulation, while also minimising the accessibility of sensitive information.

It also wants to investigate whether there are successful examples of large-scale applications and how back-end IT architecture can facilitate these privacy-enhancing techniques.

Experts will be invited to partake in closed sessions with members of the ECB’s digital euro project team. Each talk will comprise a presentation lasting 20 minutes, followed by 25 minutes for questions and answers.

The ECB’s invitation comes at the same time as the Eurogroup, the set of countries in the EU that use the euro, has released details of a recent discussion on the potential impacts of a digital euro on the financial system and the use of cash.

“The Eurogroup agreed that the issuance of a digital euro should not impede the ECB’s ability to fulfil its mandate and should not impair financial stability,” said Paschal Donohoe, the Eurogroup’s president.

The Irish finance minister continued: “We need to make sure that the digital euro can be an attractive means of payment and support innovation in a digitalised economy. A clear outcome of the discussion was that a digital euro would only complement cash, not replace it.”

The Frankfurt-headquartered central bank launched an investigation phase to consider what a digital euro might look like in October 2021.

During this phase, which is expected to take two years, it will assess how a digital euro could be designed and distributed to retailers and the public.

After the investigation phase concludes, the Eurosystem will decide whether to start developing a digital euro.

That same month, the ECB unveiled members of its digital euro advisory group, including representatives from Worldline, Nexi and Spanish instant mobile payment service Bizum.

The European Commission plans to hold a public hearing on the issue in November this year and is due to propose digital euro-related legislation in early 2023.

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