Fabio Panetta: More than an intellectual game - exploring the monetary policy and financial stability implications of central bank digital currencies

Opening speech by Mr Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, at the IESE Business School Banking Initiative Conference on Technology and Finance, Frankfurt am Main, 8 April 2022.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
22 April 2022

Thank you for inviting me to this conference.

As it explores the interplay between technology and finance, I have chosen to focus my remarks on retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) – in other words, the possibility for everyone to use public money for digital payments.

It's hard to think of a better day to discuss the advances of research in this field. Today would have been the 118th birthday of the great economist Sir John Richard Hicks, who once said that "much of economic theory is pursued for no better reason than its intellectual attraction; it is a good game."

Sir John Hicks was in fact one of those researchers keen to understand issues that mattered beyond their intellectual attraction. His pioneering contributions, such as his IS-LM model or the "liquidity trap" concept, have been of immense value to macroeconomic policy.

In the same spirit, research about CBDCs is much more than just a game. Issuing CBDCs is likely to become a necessity to preserve access to public money in an increasingly digital economy. At the ECB, last year we launched the investigation phase of our digital euro project. And globally, 87 countries – representing over 90% of global GDP – are currently exploring a CBDC.