The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced the formation of a market advisory group for the purpose of exploring the infrastructural and circulation potential of the digital euro from the perspective of industry spearheads.
The group also aims to uncover the digital euros optimal function within the pan-European currency’s vast payments ecosystem.
The group includes a number of well-established experts from the banking and financial sector, including Aleksander Kurtevski, managing director of Bankart; Antonio Macías Vecino, head of payments discipline at BBVA; and Axel Schaefer, payment regulation and innovation specialist at Ingka Group (Ikea), among others.
It is expected that initial consultation meetings will commence in November 2021 and will operate on a monthly basis. The 30 members will work in advisory roles and report their findings for consideration in retail payments discussions within the Euro Retail Payments Board.
In mid-July this year, the Governing Council of the ECB disclosed plans to commence a two-year preliminary research initiative into the feasibility of the digital euro project, assessing parameters, such as infrastructure creation, distribution and design, with an assured intention to “complement cash, not replace it.”
ECB board member Fabio Panetta expressed his high expectations for the project’s success:
“I am pleased that many high-quality experts from the private sector are willing to contribute to the digital euro project. Their expertise will facilitate the integration of prospective users’ and distributors’ views on a digital euro during the investigation phase.”
Over the past year, the ECB has made progressive steps in its pursuit of a digital euro, an initiative that implies its desire to foster growth within the digital asset space. However, the institution has also expressed, seemingly paradoxically, concerns around the rapid advancement of the space, with its vice president claiming that crypto has “very weak fundamentals” in a May 2021 interview.
In an interview with the World Economic Forum in early September, Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB, scrutinized the vague categorization of dollar-pegged digital assets within the crypto sphere, concluding that stablecoins are “pretending to be a coin” but, in truth, are “completely associated with an actual currency.”
Coupling this assessment, she advised that assets of this nature should be “checked, supervised, regulated” to ensure transparency, liquidity and operation that best support the safety of the consumer.