European Central Bank Considers Rolling Out Blockchain-Powered Bank Transactions

The European Central Bank (ECB) seeks to be ahead of the game by studying how blockchain-based bank transactions will enable more money control even if lenders change to distributed ledgers.

Fabio Panetta, an ECB board member, pointed out that it was fundamental to avert a situation where liquidity and trading would become fragmented if banks were allowed to settle amongst themselves or utilize stablecoins. 

Panetta added:

“Despite the uncertainties surrounding DLT’s potential, we want to be prepared for a scenario where market players adopt DLT for wholesale payments and securities settlement.”

Market participants can use distributed ledger technology (DLT) to verify transactions since a copy of them is kept rather than depending on a trusted party like a central bank. Per the report:

“On top of a digital euro for consumers, the ECB is looking at how it could let banks settle wholesale transactions between them on a distributed ledger, rather than the central bank’s own.”

Based on the popularity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and the underlying blockchain technology, the ECB is one of the global central banks eyeing digital currencies.

For instance, the ECB launched a public consultation on the proposed Digital Euro, Blockchain.News reported. 

On the part of stablecoins, Panetta disclosed that they could jeopardize monetary supremacy. He said:

“Giving stablecoins the ECB’s backing would outsource the provision of central bank money to private entities, endangering monetary sovereignty.”

Panetta added that the ECB sought solutions to bridge the gap between its Target 2 settlement system and private blockchains

Meanwhile, the ECB raised interest rates by 50 basis points (bps), which brought its deposit rates back to zero from -0.5% in July. The hike was a surprise move as economists had anticipated a smaller hike of 25bps.

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Jeff Bezos Amazon Among 5 Partners to Design Digital Euro Prototype

The European Central Bank (ECB), has confirmed Jeff Bezos’s tech company AMAZON,  as part of the five partners to design a digital euro prototype. 


ECB said via a post on its website, that the selected organizations will perform different functions in developing the interface of the virtual euro prototype. 

Notably, ECB began to look into the digital euro back in July 2021, however, it made no guarantees that it will eventually issue the virtual currency. While stating that only a digital euro that is generally recognized by European users could be deemed an achievement.

Based on recent developments, ECB has planned for the prototype exercise to commence in September and reach an end in December. 

Similarly, this exercise will form part of a continuous two years study phase, to analyze the prototypes designed and to assess the effectiveness of the partnership. ECB forecasts completing this cycle by March 2023.

ECB sets Responsibility Based on Unique Capabilities

European Central Bank directors revealed that the five organizations will prioritize specific roles unique to their capabilities. Leading e-commerce firm, Amazon will be assigned the duty of designing the eCommerce payment system for the project. 

While other organizations were chosen from 54 applicants that met the requirements required to design the features of the currency. Spain’s CaixaBank, will design the online peer-to-peer payment for the App, and French global payment service, Worldline will design the offline payment system.

Recall that ECB announced a call for partners back in April and received 54 applications from both international banks and Multinational Technology Companies. 

Therefore, the five applicants that were selected were based on their adherence to “specific capabilities” necessary to carry out the demands of the project. Again, the ECB applauds the 54 Applicants across the globe that showed interest in designing the prototype.

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ECB Publishes New Guideline on Regulated Digital Asset Licensing

The European Central Bank (ECB) has issued new licensing guidelines for regulating digital assets, although it currently does not have a unified regulatory framework governing crypto-asset activities and services.

ECB stands for European Central Bank, the central bank of the 19 European Union countries that have adopted the Euro.

The ECB’s banking regulator noted that the ECB is taking steps to harmonize its assessment of licensing applications as “national frameworks governing crypto-assets vary widely.”

The Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament recently reached an interim agreement on the proposals of Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA).

The agreement requires crypto assets to be placed under a regulatory framework. It uses the Capital Requirements Directive criteria, which has been in effect since 2013, to evaluate licensing applications for crypto-related activities and services.

The ECB proposes that the AML/CFT risk profile will be analyzed as several characteristics of crypto assets, such as their lack of intrinsic economic value or reference assets, make them vulnerable to money laundering.

The report states that crypto companies will be assessed accordingly for their licensing from their business models, internal governance and “fit and proper”.

Due to unique characteristics of crypto assets, such as programmability, the ECB report details that:

“The higher the complexity or relevance of the crypto business, the higher the level of knowledge and experience in the field of crypto should be. Senior managers or board members with relevant IT knowledge and chief risk officers with robust experience in this area are important safeguards.”

Overall, the publication is evidence of how the ECB, among global regulators, aims to present its regulatory activities related to the crypto ecosystem. With the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) Act under active consideration, many believe this year will mark a major shift in European crypto regulation.

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Introducing Digital Euro to Protect Monetary Sovereignty amid Cashless Tendency: Lagarde

Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, and Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB’s Executive Board, have shared their thoughts on the need for the digital Euro amidst the waning influence of fiat cash.


In a blog post, Lagarde and Panetta identified three major avenues through which the Euro as paper money is no longer in vogue, noting that if left unaddressed, it could affect the overall relevance of the financial landscape of the European Union. As a part of the disruptive financial landscape identified, paper money is now being used relatively less with digital payments offered by the private sector taking centre stage.

Lagarde and Panetta noted that the dependence on private digital payments outfits is risky as private institutions cannot effectively replicate the roles of the central bank. While discrediting traditional private money service firms that their roles will bring in confusion, they noted that stablecoins on the other hand are “vulnerable to runs.”

Another fear the two pointed out is the fact that permitting private payments to dominate can invite non-European solutions and technologies to dominate the EU payment landscape.

Presenting the Digital Euro as the Solution

Lagarde and Panetta, in their submission, posited that only the Digital Euro, a complement to Fiat Euro, can wade off the current threats that are described above.

They pointed out that while the ECB is still working on the design concepts for the Digital Euro – projected to be completed in 2023 – there is a consensus to build the new legal tender, bearing in mind what consumers cherish the most, including “wide acceptance, ease of use, low costs, high speed, security, and consumer protection.”

“Introducing a digital euro would ensure that citizens can continue to trust in the monetary anchor behind their digital payments. It would protect the strategic autonomy of European payments and monetary sovereignty, providing a fall-back solution if geopolitical tensions intensify,” the blog post reads.

The EU is ahead of the curve when it comes to providing a detailed regulatory framework for its emerging crypto and virtual assets industry. While it is looking to promote innovation, it is also not sitting on its oars as it looks to present its CBDC as the dominant payment model in the near future.

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ECB President Christine Lagarde Says Crypto is “Worth Nothing”

Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) has re-emphasized her dislike for the digital currency ecosystem, noting that the nascent asset class is highly speculative, risky, and worth nothing. (16).jpg

As reported by Politico, Lagarde shared how she felt about digital currencies in an interview with the Dutch TV show, College Tour, on schedule to be aired this Sunday. In her words;

“I have said all along the crypto assets are highly speculative, very risky assets,” Lagarde said adding, “My very humble assessment is that it is worth nothing. It is based on nothing, there is no underlying assets to act as an anchor of safety.”

The veteran financial expert said she has never invested in any digital currency, a declaration that does not come as a surprise considering other experts in both banking and finance also maintain a similar claim. However, Lagarde confessed that her son had invested in crypto, and came down with little luck.

While slamming cryptocurrencies, Lagarde says the emergence of a Digital Euro, the bloc’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will receive her full endorsement seeing it will be backed by the ECB.

“The day when we have the central bank digital currency, any digital euro, I will guarantee it,” she said. “So the central bank will be behind it. I think that is vastly different from any of those things.”

In a manner that is characteristic of senior banking executives, the scorn for cryptocurrencies on the path of Christine Lagarde was more forthcoming. For regulators in the United States like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair, Gary Gensler, identifying the subtle distinction in his love for crypto is arduous seeing he has approved a BTC futures-based ETF but has refused to let a spot ETF version fly.

The disagreements about the revolutionary push of crypto are expressed in varying forms, and Lagarde and Gensler have showcased two of the ways one can antagonize crypto within the confines of regulatory measures.

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ECB Officials Urges to Accept Digital Euro in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Fabio Panetta, a member of the Executive Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), suggested an acceptance of the digital euro in brick-and-mortar stores and online entities to help promote the use of the fiat digital euro.

A digital euro needs to allow easy payments between people if it follows a trend of adoption like the fiat euro 20 years ago. A nominal survey showed in a statement released on Wednesday. And the masses are more receptive to the digital euro, which is widely accepted in various brick-and-mortar and online stores.

Panetta said:

“The introduction of euro banknotes made it possible for us to pay with physical euros anywhere in the euro area. So it is no surprise that people expect to be able to use the digital complement to banknotes wherever they can pay digitally or online.”

In April last year, The European Central Bank (ECB) has published its public consultation results, an initiative launched last year to evaluate Europeans’ stance regarding a central bank digital currency (CBDC) backed by the European Union.

The majority of the respondents, including private citizens and professionals, want a digital Euro, but only if it can be built with elements of privacy.

Fabio Panetta said the ECB would hold another round of focus groups on the digital euro by the end of 2022, adding that:

“We are getting a clearer picture of what citizens and merchants want, so we can finetune all the design features of a digital euro before any potential issuance. And co-legislators have a key role to play, for instance to enable greater privacy.”

The ECB is amongst the major monetary watchdogs with a vested interest in the Digital Euro pursuit. The ECB President Christine Lagarde has often reiterated the bank’s plans to launch the CBDC to serve as a complementary digital payment alternative to relieve the existing fiat Euro alternative.

Other economies, including Japan, China, and Sweden, are also exploring the Digital Currency initiative across the board.

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Bulgaria to Introduce Crypto Payment Options

For a country currently not in the Eurozone, Bulgaria plans to introduce a government-backed digital currency payment initiative “in short to medium term.”

According to a Bloomberg report, citing Assen Vassilev, Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister for EU Funds and minister of Finance, the government is currently in discussion with industry stakeholders and the Bulgarian National Bank concerning the crypto payment initiative. 

With the European Central Bank (ECB) planning to develop the Digital Euro Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for the countries using the Euro, Bulgaria will not be beneficial from this CBDC use in the short term. However, the country currently has the pact to join the Eurozone in 2024, during which it will switch from its currency, the Lev, to Euros. The government is taking more proactive steps to bolster its financial ecosystem with the crypto payment program.

Bulgaria is not really amongst the most popular and renowned crypto-focused countries. Still, it ranks as one of those with the largest Bitcoin assets under custody. Back in 2017, the country seized 213,519 Bitcoins from an underground crime network at the time of the bull run that year. With little known about the seized funds, no one knows for sure if the country has auctioned these coins or is still HODLing them.

Many countries are embracing Bitcoin and digital currency initiatives in diverse ways. While China has succeeded in banning all crypto-related transactions from its shores, El Salvador is all bullish on digital currencies. It has been accumulating the digital currency at every opportunity of a price dip.

The move by Bulgaria to implement crypto trading in the short to medium term will likely push the Balkan nation to favor Bitcoin and altcoins usage across the board. Whatever the scope of its crypto program is, the country will likely have to fast-track its plans before it joins the Eurozone in 2024. 

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ECB Publishes New Stablecoin-Featured Framework for Overseeing Payments

The European Central Bank (ECB) has released a new framework geared towards overseeing all forms of electronic payments in the region, including those bordering on stablecoins.

Embracing a diverse set of payment models, the ECB wants to ensure that only payment service providers with secure and efficient processes are operating within the bloc.

The new framework will now be the basis for overseeing startups or other players in the payment processing space. The ECB said companies that fall under its regulatory supervision will be required to implement all necessary provisions laid out within one year.

“The retail payments ecosystem is evolving fast owing to innovation and technological change. This calls for a forward-looking approach in overseeing digital payment solutions,” said ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta. “The PISA framework will include digital payment tokens such as stablecoins, alongside traditional payment instruments and schemes we have gained experience in over the years. Internationally coordinated action will also have to be stepped up to cope with the challenges posed by global digital payment solutions and stablecoins.”

According to the ECB, the newly published framework is in line with the forthcoming EU regulations on crypto-assets (including stablecoins) and international standards for global stablecoins. The ECB said it will be cooperating with the other global watchdogs in implementing the provisions of the new framework.

Regulators around the world have been exploring various avenues to tame the digital currency ecosystem, and the addition of stablecoins by the ECB further complements this position. Many have touted the potentials of digital currencies to power the next generation of online and digital payments, and industry proponents have been calling for a pan-government regulation of these emerging asset classes.

The new ECB framework is billed to serve as a basis for future interactions between the bank and the industry participants concerned.

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Eurosystem Publishes New Oversight Framework

Key Takeaways

  • Today, the European Central Bank published its new framework for electronic payments, which includes “crypto-asset related services” and “digital payment tokens.”
  • The new oversight will apply to relevant companies in the Eurosystem within the next year.
  • This is amidst “forthcoming EU regulations on crypto-assets (including stablecoins).”

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The European Central Bank (ECB)’s Governing Council has today announced a new oversight framework for electronic payments.

ECB Regulatory Framework Published

The ECB’s oversight framework for electric payment instruments, schemes, and arrangements (PISA) replaces the current Eurosystem oversight approach for payment instruments to oversee companies “enabling or supporting the use of payment cards, credit transfers, direct debits, e-money transfers and digital payment tokens, including electronic wallets,” as well as “crypto-asset related services,” such as merchants accepting cryptocurrencies as payment or the use of an electronic wallet for sending, receiving, or paying with cryptocurrencies. 

According to the published framework, the Eurosystem has deemed payment instrument innovation, presumably including crypto payments, sufficient for extending the scope of current oversight. As an ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta said, “The retail payments ecosystem is evolving fast owing to innovation and technological change. This calls for a forward-looking approach in overseeing digital payment solutions.” Panetta said this includes “digital payment tokens such as stablecoins.”

Panetta went on to emphasize the importance of international coordination “to cope with the challenges posed by global digital payment solutions and stablecoins.” The ECB’s press release included that cooperation with “other authorities” was one of its aims, and companies already subjected to Eurosystem oversight will be expected to comply with this new oversight framework by 15 November 2022. The ECB left the door open for a “continuous dialogue,” though, for “all overseen companies.” 

The PISA framework will not apply to “services where the transfer of value has only an investment focus (e.g. investment in digital tokens).”

Given the Eurosystem’s “decentralized structure,” the ECB tasks national central banks (NCB) with “primary oversight responsibility.” In other words, each nation in the Eurosystem will be tasked with enforcing the ECB’s PISA framework. 

The press release mentions forthcoming EU regulation on “crypto-assets (including stablecoins) and international standards for global stablecoins,” and one of the ECB’s purported goals is to ensure payment systems contribute “to confidence in the currency.” Time will tell how crypto-assets might be regarded in terms of their effect on confidence in currencies, and the decentralized nature of the Eurosystem makes this even more uncertain. In any case, it is apparent that the digital assets space has become sufficiently relevant to prompt the major expansion in oversight seen today. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC and several other cryptocurrencies.

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European Central Bank announces digital euro advisory group members

The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced the formation of a Market Advisory Group for the purpose of exploring the infrastructural and circulation potential of the digital euro from the perspective of industry spearheads.

The group also aims to uncover the digital euros optimal function within the pan-European currency’s vast payments ecosystem. 

The group includes a number of well-established experts from the banking and financial sector, including Aleksander Kurtevski, managing director of Bankart, Antonio Macías Vecino, head of payments discipline at BBVA and Axel Schaefer, payment regulation and innovation specialist at Ingka Group (Ikea), among others.

It is expected that initial consultation meetings will commence in November 2021 and will operate on a monthly basis. The 30 members will work in advisory roles and report their findings for consideration in retail payments discussions within the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB).

In mid July this year, the Governing Council of the ECB disclosed plans to commence a two-year preliminary research initiative into the feasibility of the digital euro project, assessing parameters such as infrastructure creation, distribution and design, with an assured intention to “complement cash, not replace it.”

Related: Stablecoins are assets — not currencies, says ECB president

ECB Board Member Fabio Panetta expressed his high-expectations for the project’s success:

“I am pleased that many high-quality experts from the private sector are willing to contribute to the digital euro project. Their expertise will facilitate the integration of prospective users’ and distributors’ views on a digital euro during the investigation phase.”

This is a developing story, so more detail will be added shortly.