While the global race for digital central bank currencies has long since broken out, for a long time it seemed as if Europe was watching idly. For a long time, observers and decision-makers alike dismissed the digital euro as a distant vision of the future. Meanwhile the world is busy tinkering with CBDCs, the call for a digital equivalent for the Eurozone is getting louder these days.
Digital euro? Finland makes a cautious statement
The European Central Bank (ECB) will decide in the middle of next year whether or not to issue an e-euro. Meanwhile, Olli Rehn , Governor of the Central Bank of Finland, is already certain: In his opinion, the digital euro will appear in this decade. It is important, however, that “[the digital euro] will not be a substitute for cash, but a supplement,” the central banker told Reuters . Whether the digital euro takes shape will, however, also depend on the attitudes of citizens and companies – this is what the ECB is collecting in an hourly survey.
And the debate is simmering in this country too. Adjust to stay happy – this is how Burkhard Balz quoted Confucius to justify the considerations for a possible digital central bank currency in the euro zone. The board member of the Deutsche Bundesbank sees the ECB as obliged to respond to current trends , especially in times of pandemics . For the future introduction of a digital euro, however, it is crucial to clear groundbreaking questions, risks and pitfalls out of the way. The Bundesbanker is certain of one thing: In the end, the introduction of a European CBDC is primarily a political decision, but not a purely financial decision.
BIS head of innovation Benoît Cœuré praises the potential of CBDCs
Another signal that the euro zone could soon have its own digital currency comes from the former ECB governor Benoît Cœuré. The Frenchman has meanwhile been hired as head of innovation at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the “central bank of central banks”. In a guest post for the crypto news portal Coindesk Last week, Cœuré praised the broad potential of CBDCs. He writes that digital central bank currencies could “promote payment diversity, help make cross-border payments faster and cheaper, ensure financial inclusion and even facilitate tax transfers in times of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.” Cœuré’s words should not go unheard. He is not only considered a dedicated digital expert, but is also traded as the future central bank governor of France.
With the digital euro for financial independence in Europe
In view of such visions, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) think tank is also certain of the potential of digital currencies. According to the political experts, a digital euro could above all help to make the euro zone economically more independent of the US financial system. In their recently published proposalsThe consultants are convinced that “protecting Europe against coercive measures”: “A digital euro could increase Europe’s sovereignty in terms of payment infrastructure and thereby reduce its dependence on foreign payment networks.” Europe, in turn, could defy trade sanctions, among other things. However, a timely release of the digital euro is not realistic. It is therefore important to bring private providers on board at short notice.
Russian central bank wants to use digital ruble to leverage sanctions
Meanwhile, the Russian government is making a similar move. Most recently, in response to the alleged poisoning of the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny or the hacking attack on the German Bundestag, Moscow was confronted with a large number of possible sanctions. The government’s dusty project of the crypto ruble seems to be just right. In conversation with the Izvestia newspapera representative of the Russian central bank indicated that a digital ruble could not help Russia to become more independent of the US dollar. In addition, the CBDC could cushion the risks of international sanctions.