The European Commission has just presented a legislative proposal aimed at establishing the legal basis for the eventual issuance by the ECB of a digital euro as a complement to cash.
According to the announcement:
"The digital euro would give consumers an alternative European-wide payment solution, in addition to the options that exist today. This means more choice for consumers and a stronger international role for the euro."
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The CBDC will function as a digital wallet with which users will also be able to conduct offline transactions.
The digital euro will provide a higher level of privacy than existing solutions such as payment cards.
The rollout of the digital euro will be handled by banks and other financial service providers. For individual users, the basic functions associated with CBDC will be free of charge. In order to expand access, users will be able to open accounts at post offices and other government agencies, including local governments.
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Merchants will be required to accept the digital euro as legal tender in the EU. However, for small merchants, the cost of creating the appropriate infrastructure will be disproportionately high.
The proposed document must still be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, whereas the final decision to issue a digital currency, as well as the technical part of the work, is up to the ECB.