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ECB official says the central bank is working on a ‘retail’ digital currency, floats decentralized token model

The European Central Bank is working on a “retail central bank digital currency” as part of an investigative task force, according to a member of its Executive Board.

Yves Mersch, who also serves as vice chair of the ECB’s Supervisory Board, made the remarks during an early-morning keynote address for CoinDesk’s Consensus 2020 conference. In a published version of his speech, Mersch talked about the task force and the work it is conducting, mostly notable the retail CBDC versus a “wholesale” focused one.

Mersch acknowledged that such work is taking place against the backdrop of an economy in which the vast majority of euro area transactions – some 76% – are in the form of cash. And to that end, “[t]he ECB’s debate on CBDCs is therefore mainly analytical,” he noted.

“The lack of a concrete ‘business case’ for a CBDC at present should and does not stop us from seriously exploring the optimal design of a CBDC so that we will be well prepared should we ever take a policy decision to issue a digital currency,” he went on to say. “To this end, we have set up a task force on a CBDC within the Eurosystem
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