In view of the progress made with the digital euro, the EU Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) have emphasized the importance of cash.

The Commission and the ECB “will (…) do everything in their power to ensure that cash continues to be available and accepted in all 20 member countries,” said European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta in a joint commentary was published today in several European daily newspapers.

But a second option is needed: “Adapting cash to the digital age is the next logical step on the way to a truly digital economy,” write Dombrovskis and Panetta. “If we had both options – euro cash and a digital euro – everyone would be free to choose how they would like to pay and nobody would be left behind digitally.” A legislative proposal from the EU Commission on the digital euro is expected today.

The digital euro is also an issue at the ECB

Like other central banks around the world, the ECB has been dealing with digital central bank money for years. With a digital euro, Europe would have its own range of digital payments as an alternative to payment service providers that are not based in Europe, such as Paypal. It is not yet clear whether and when consumers will actually be able to pay with a digital euro.

With a digital euro, “an electronic payment solution would be offered in the euro area that we could all use free of charge,” Dombrovskis and Panetta advertised. “Everywhere in the euro area, people could pay with the digital euro free of charge, for example using a digital wallet or smartphone.” Dombrovskis and Panetta also expect that it will be cheaper for consumers: “A digital euro would also lower the fees that consumers pay for payments, because it would boost competition in Europe.”