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UniCredit CEO endorses digital euro with banks’ role intact

unicredit-ceo-endorses-digital-euro-with-banks-role-intact
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UniCredit CEO endorses digital euro with banks’ role intact

UniCredit CEO Andrea Orcel voiced his support for a digital euro if only banks retain their central role in its implementation and operation.

Digital euro could be a “very good” thing if financial lenders retain their central role, UniCredit CEO Andrea Orcel stated during a conference organized by Mediobanca, Reuters reports.

Speaking at the event, Orcel emphasized that the success of the digital euro depends on maintaining banks’ integral position in the flow of money, labeling the digital currency’s launch as a “matter of sovereignty for Europe.”

The European Central Bank aims to launch the digital euro to make the euro area “more robust” and support Europe’s “strategic autonomy and monetary sovereignty.” As the launch is still years away, discussions continue on how banks will integrate digital euro services, with implications for the sector’s evolving business models.

“I think the question is how it will happen: … are banks going to be the infrastructure and the framework for a digital euro like they are for the cash euro? If banks are fully integrated, i.e. ‘Dear Customer, you can have cash or you can have digital’ … then it’s seamless and it will be very good for Europe and very good for banks.”

Andrea Orcel

ECB Executive Board member Piero Cipollone highlighted in an April presentation that commercial banks would handle digital euro services, with consumers benefiting from free services while merchants and service providers incur associated fees. The presentation also noted that consumer banks would receive fees from merchant banks, though specific details and the exact fee stake weren’t disclosed.

Speaking at Money20/20, Evelien Witlox, digital euro director at the European Central Bank, highlighted the ECB’s intention to proceed cautiously with a digital euro, even as pressure mounts from the decline in cash usage and the emergence of alternative currencies and digital payments.

The digital euro would become legal tender if issued, allowing the general public to use central bank money for everyday transactions. This would be a potential benefit for citizens, as merchants offering digital forms of payment would be required to accept the digital euro, Witlox said.