Policy brief – The Digital Euro: A Matter of Trust

In this policy brief, Finance Watch argues that for the Digital Euro project to be successful, the Digital Euro must be widely available to EU residents, be truly free of charge and easily accessible, as well as being built in a way that protects peoples’ privacy and personal data. The brief emphasises that while the Digital Euro can bring benefits to those living in the EU, it should not replace cash.

Finance Watch supports the proposed introduction of a Digital Euro. It has the potential to reshape European retail payments and bring considerable benefits to citizens. As a public alternative to established, privately controlled means of payment, such as payment cards and proprietary mobile wallets, the Digital Euro could contribute significantly to reasserting citizens’ control of money and payments in the Union.

This policy brief is a reaction to the legislative proposal for a Digital Euro published by the European Commission on 28 June 2023. To ensure citizens trust in and benefit from a Digital Euro, Finance Watch has published its recommendations for enhancing the current proposal on the table.

Finance Watch believes EU policymakers, together with the European Central Bank, must shape a Digital Euro that is:

  • Readily available: Distribution of the Digital Euro by public-sector authorities needs to be effective, widely available, and readily accessible to all EU residents. All commercial payment service providers operating in the EU should be obliged, in due course, to distribute the Digital Euro.
  • Truly free of charge: The range of ‘basic services’ that must be provided by payment service providers, free of charge, should cover users’ everyday payment needs, including single payments and direct debits, online and offline.
  • Easily accessible: The Digital Euro should be made available in a choice of formats including, at least, a mobile-phone wallet and a (physical) payment card.
  • Built on an adequate protection of users’ privacy and personal data: The Digital Euro should deliver cash-like privacy, both for offline and small, low-value online transactions.
  • Not a replacement for cash: The universal acceptance of, and access to cash must be retained.