Frankfurt, Germany – With consumers increasingly using cashless ways to buy things, the European Central Bank on Friday took a step closer to issuing a digital version of the euro currency shared by 19 countries, saying it had to be ready to launch digital money if a changing world requires it.
The central bank issued a comprehensive report outlining the reasons why it might need to take the step. The ECB also said it would hold public consultations on the idea with citizens, academics and bankers.
It said no decision has been made, and that any digital euro would complement cash, not replace it. The consultations will start Oct. 12.
“The euro belongs to Europeans and our mission is to be its guardian,” said Christine Lagarde, ECB President. “Europeans are increasingly turning to digital in the ways they spend, save and invest. Our role is to secure trust in money. This means making sure the euro is fit for the digital age. We should be prepared to issue a digital euro, should the need arise.”