Fabio Panetta: Demystifying wholesale central bank digital currency

Speech by Mr Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, at the Symposium on "Payments and securities settlement in Europe – today and tomorrow", hosted by the Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main, 26 September 2022.

Central bank speech  | 
26 September 2022

Let me first thank the Deutsche Bundesbank, and President Nagel in particular, for inviting me to speak at today's symposium.

I would like to use this opportunity to discuss the implications of rapid technological change for our payment systems. I will focus not on people's daily transactions, but on the infrastructure that underpins the smooth functioning and stability of our financial system.

Payments have long been an underestimated aspect of the monetary system, running reliably in the background and allowing the smooth implementation of policies in other areas, which took the spotlight. But a burst of creative digital innovation is now breaking this perception.

This is most visible in the area of retail payments. The digitalisation of finance has broadened the available payment options. Fintech start-ups have emerged. Big techs have entered the payments market, capitalising on the networks they operate. The crypto universe has boomed and burst.

These disruptions show that we need to preserve – at all times – an anchor of stability for the monetary and payments systems. Safeguarding this anchor is what our digital euro project is about. We want to ensure that central bank money remains available for the public to use everywhere in the euro area for their day-to-day transactions – not just in its physical form, but in digital form too.