It could be a while before European Union gets a central bank digital currency, if it gets one at all.
In a Wednesday interview with Bloomberg Television, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde laid out the complex decision-making process with which the bank will determine the future of a digital euro.
The ECB will soon release its analysis of eight thousand responses received from its digital euro consultation process. “That will be communicated to the European Parliament which is one of the key players as well as the Commission and the Council with which we operate,” she stated.
Based on that consultation, alongside the parliamentary work, the ECB’s Governing Council will decide whether the institution will begin experimenting with a CBDC by mid-2021.
Following an initial experimentation phase, the council would then hold a six-month or a one-year assessment on whether to roll out the digital euro, Lagarde stated.
“The whole process — let’s be realistic about it — will in my view take another four years, maybe a little more. But I would hope we can keep it within four years,” she said, adding:
“Because it’s a technical endeavor as well as a fundamental change because we need to make sure that we do it right. We owe it to Europeans, they need to feel safe and secure. They need to know that they are holding a central bank-backed […] equivalent of a digital banknote. […] We need to make sure that we’re not going to break any system, but enhance the system.”
Lagarde also mentioned that some financial intermediaries have expressed concerns about the ECB launching a CBDC. She said that these intermediaries will continue to co-exist with the new ecosystem as well as cash, which “will also continue to be available.”
The ECB launched a public consultation on a potential digital euro in October 2020.