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European Central Bank working on prototypes of digital Euro interfaces

European Central Bank’s digital Euro investigation phase is at the point of developing and testing systems that might interface with consumers

The European Central Bank (ECB) has chosen five businesses to develop prototypes of user interfaces for its planned digital currency.

Through the prototypes, the ECB wants to test how technology underpinning a digital Euro would integrate with user-facing interfaces provided by third parties.

“The aim of this prototyping exercise is to test how well the technology behind a digital Euro integrates with prototypes developed by companies,” the ECB said. “Simulated transactions will be initiated using the front-end prototypes developed by the five companies and processed through the Eurosystem’s interface and back-end.”

The ECB launched its digital Euro project in June last year. Retailer Amazon, Spanish bank CaixaBank, and payment providers Wordline, the European Payments Initiative (EPI) and Italian payments provider Nexi were chosen from 54 applicants, following a call for expressions of interest in April.

“All the companies fulfilled a number of essential capabilities that were outlined in [our] call, while the five providers chosen best matched the ‘specific capabilities’ required for the assigned use case,” the ECB said.

Amazon is working on an e-commerce payments system, CaixaBank is developing a peer-to-peer online payments interface, while Worldline is focused on peer-to-peer offline payments, the EPI on point of sale payments initiated by the payer and Nexi point of sale payments initiated by the payee. 

“There are no plans to reuse the prototypes in the subsequent phases of the digital euro project,” added the ECB.

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This prototyping is part of the ECB’s two-year investigation phase of its digital Euro project. This is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023, and the ECB will publish its findings.

It said: “The digital Euro would be like Euro banknotes, but digital. It would be an electronic form of money, issued by the Eurosystem (the ECB and the national central banks of the Euro area), and would be accessible to all citizens and firms.

“A digital Euro would not replace cash, but rather complement it. A digital Euro would give people an additional choice about how to pay and make it easier to do so, contributing to accessibility and inclusion.”

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