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The Digital Euro should only arrive in 2-4 years according to ECB president

Photo of: Joseph Stone
by Joseph Stone

The impatients will have to continue to wait. The president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, estimates that a digital version of the euro will only be issued in 2 to 4 years.

The European Central Bank, the ECB, recently set the tone on the urgency, or not, to launch a digital currency or MDBC. Its October report on the digital euro was not clear-cut. A decision on a proposed issue will not be made before 2021.

And even if the central bankers and political decision-makers finally agree on the interest of a CBDC, it will not land in the wallets of EU citizens anytime soon. In a virtual conference with the Fed and the Bank of England, the ECB President sets a distant horizon.

According to Christine Lagarde, a digital euro could be launched within the next 2 to 4 years. And this is only a hypothesis, not an official announcement. “We could well go in this direction,” says the head of the ECB.

“My intuition is that it will come,” she adds. An intuition that is far from being isolated, even if the accompanying calendar is still particularly vague. The governor of the Central Bank of Finland sees a “very likely” issue in the next decade.

Why so much time and caution on the subject of central bank currencies? Is it, once again, a European peculiarity and a fear of being left behind in the international race?

For Christine Lagarde, designing a digital euro simply takes time. Technological complexity is not the main issue for CBDCs. It is also necessary to provide protection against money laundering and prevent the financing of terrorism,” she stresses.

The President of the ECB also reminds us that if China seems to be on the verge of launching an e-Yuan today, it has been working on this project for several years. Like the United States, Europe does not intend to race and rush.

“If Europe is going to facilitate cross-border payments, we should explore it,” the EU leader insists, however. However, as she already stated earlier, the digital euro is not intended to replace cash. On the contrary, Lagarde sees it as a “complement” more than a substitution.