Competition for Bitcoin and Co.? What is the EU crypto exchange?

Competition for Bitcoin and Co.?  What is the EU crypto exchange?

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Is a “digital euro” coming? The EU Commission has just presented a corresponding plan. The excitement among crypto investors is great: will a “digital euro” become a competitor to Bitcoin and Co.? Many even fear a surveillance tool that could eventually replace cash and credit cards. The EU Commission puts it into perspective – but it’s still a concern. Will “digital euro” be a threat?

Digital euro: an alternative to cash and plastic

The first step has been taken: The EU Commission wants the “digital euro” and has presented a corresponding reform package. “In practice, this proposal will result in more innovative financial products and services for users and will stimulate competition in the financial sector,” said Brussels. A “digital euro” should be an “additional option to the current options” of cash and credit card.

The Commission in a press release on the digital euro:

“A digital euro could be made available to eurozone residents through existing banking apps or through an app provided by the Eurosystem that provides a harmonized entry point for basic payment functions. […].”

“Digital euro” should not be limited to the EU only:

“In further versions, consumers from selected third countries could also have access, depending on the access rules to be set out in the legal framework for digital euro. The report also proposes that cross-currency capabilities could be deployed with other central bank digital currencies outside the eurozone.”

A related study revealed that person-to-person money transfers are considered “an essential feature of a digital wallet”. Offline payments, which are currently not widely available, are seen as a useful feature when, for example, one has a limited internet connection.

Board Member Fabio Panetta, chairman of the “Digital Euro” task force:

“We value the views and needs of our fellow European citizens. We listen to them. The digital euro project is for the people of Europe.”

Bitter, though: According to a survey by the German Bank Association, three quarters of all Germans consider the introduction of the digital euro “unnecessary”.

Digital Euro: “Open Heart Surgery”

And anyway: what does “digital euro” mean? Opinions on this vary greatly. Frank Schäffler, for example, FDP politician and member of the German Bundestag, is critical and speaks of “open heart surgery”. Schäffler:

“On the digital euro: The ECB has not yet explained sufficiently what the benefits of a digital euro are for European citizens. However, in case a digital euro is introduced, it cannot displace cash, it must enable anonymous payment and it cannot create any new risks for the financial system. Digital euro is ultimately an open heart operation in our monetary system. You have to be very careful here.”

On the other hand, party colleague Nicola Beer has a completely different position on the “digital euro”: The digital euro has “what it takes to be a real digital supplement to cash”, she said on Twitter. Now “technical details must be sharpened quickly”.

Bundesbank board member Joachim Wuermeling also sees advantages: For cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH), the introduction of a virtual European currency would offer a “more stable option”.

However, experts doubt even that stability would be guaranteed – after all, this is a serious intervention in the existing financial system. After all: There is still some time for correction. A “digital euro” should not be usable until 2028 at the earliest.

Last updated on June 29, 2023

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