A member of the ECB executive board presents plans for the digital euro to the European Parliament.

A member of the ECB board, Fabio Panetta, confirms the bank’s privacy policy for digital currencies and says they will never be programmable.

The digital euro, if it exists, will preserve the role of the central bank by expanding payment options beyond those offered by cash, according to European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Fabio Panetta, who testified before a European Parliament committee on 23 Jan.

Panetta was pleased with the progress of research into a potential digital euro. Panetta told the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee that access to the digital euro would first be available to consumers, businesses, and governments within the eurozone, then to individuals and businesses in the European Economic Area, and finally to “selected third-party countries” through agreements. 

Panetta believes that access and usability would be best served by a scheme that provided uniform rules, standards, and procedures to allow the development of additional products and services based on it. Transactions with the digital euro should be free, with optional extra services from intermediaries. 

“There would be no programmable money in the digital euro,” Panetta said. “There would be no restrictions on when, where, or to whom people could pay in digital euros,” the ECB said. 

“When it comes to access to personal data by the central bank, we propose that it be denied,” he told the committee. And it will be up to you, as co-legislators, to strike a balance between privacy and other important public policy goals such as anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, tax evasion prevention, and sanctions compliance.” 

The European Central Bank (ECB)  Thinking about developing a Eurosystem app to ensure that users can access services across the eurozone. “In terms of hardware,” Panetta continued, “people might be able to pay with phones, cards, or even smartwatches,”

Panetta confirmed that research will move from the investigative to the realization stage in the third quarter of this year. He finished by reminding lawmakers of their role in the digital euro project.”It has a clear political dimension in light of its broad societal implications,” the Eurogroup of finance ministers said recently. 

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