EU will decide on digital euro in January 2021: ECB president

“At that point in time we will make the decision as to whether or not we go forward with the digital euro.”

The president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, has said that the bank should reach a decision on releasing a digital euro early next year.

In an online policy panel held on Nov. 12, Lagarde stated that the European Central Bank, or ECB, was not “racing to be first” in its efforts to release a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. However, she said that the results of the consultation the central bank launched in October on a digital euro would be ready in January 2021.

“At that point in time we will make the decision as to whether or not we go forward with the digital euro,” stated Lagarde. “My hunch — but this is a decision that will be taken collectively — is that we might well go in that direction.”

The ECB president said the bank still had to address concerns when it comes time to make a final decision on a CBDC. In particular, she said the ECB would consider anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism measures in addition to user privacy.

Lagarde gave Facebook’s Libra token and China’s recent digital yuan trials as examples of how the central bank cannot rush a rollout, giving a rough estimate of the timeline should the ECB proceed:

“This is a project that will probably take us two, three, four years before it is launched.”

Also speaking on the panel were Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey. Powell reiterated his position on a central bank digital currency, stating that it was “critical that we get it right as opposed to trying to be the first.” The Bank of England governor advised the panel that people had the right to “expect certainty of value” in any currency.

Lagarde has repeatedly stated her support of a digital euro since her time as the head of the International Monetary Fund, though the ECB has not yet made an official decision on a CBDC. The central bank recently opened a public consultation to get feedback from users on what they expect from a digital euro.

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