Consumer advocates: Paying with the digital euro should be “anonymous”

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From the point of view of consumer advocates, a digital euro should reflect the advantages of cash as much as possible. “Payments in the digital world should be anonymous as with cash,” said Dorothea Mohn from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) of the German Press Agency. “The core must be the protection of privacy.”

Europe’s monetary authorities have been looking into the possible introduction of a digital euro for a while. In a two-year investigation phase, aspects such as technology and data protection should now be dealt with. It has not yet been decided whether a digital version of the European common currency will be added to the notes and coins.

The European Central Bank (ECB) emphasized that in any case a digital euro would only complement cash and not replace it. Consumer advocates are concerned about the growing influence of private payment service providers. Consumers would have to expect that all payments by card or via one of the various digital payment solutions would be systematically evaluated and processed for commercial purposes, according to a paper by the Federal Association for the Digital Euro.

“A digital euro that ensures data protection can save consumers from commercial surveillance and make them more independent of private corporations that are expanding their power more and more,” said Mohn. In order for this to work, a digital version of the common currency would have to protect the privacy of the entire value chain, including the account or electronic purse, the wallet.

The vzbv also demands that a digital euro must be accessible to all consumers and make payment transactions more secure from technical failures. At the same time, cash must be made future-proof.

Consumer advocates are convinced that the greatest danger to cash lies “in the economic motives of credit card providers, fin-tech, big-tech, banking and retailers”. Some companies have a particular interest in pushing back bills and coins, “because every cash payment is a transaction on which they earn nothing and which they cannot spy on”.

Even before the Corona crisis, the trend towards paying without notes and coins had stabilized in Germany and in the euro area. The ECB also wants to provide an answer to the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. The big difference: In contrast, a digital euro would be under the supervision of a central bank, which ensures the stability of the currency.


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