The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced the list of collaborators they will contract with to develop potential user interfaces for the digital euro.
The aim of this prototyping exercise is to test how well the technology behind a digital euro integrates with prototypes developed by companies.
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 infrastructure.
There are no plans to re-use the prototypes in the subsequent phases of the digital euro project.
Together with the ECB team, the selected companies will each focus on one specific use case of a digital euro:
- peer-to-peer online payments – CaixaBank
- peer-to-peer offline payments – Worldline
- point of sale payments initiated by the payer – EPI
- point of sale payments initiated by the payee – Nexi
- e-commerce payments – Amazon
The firms have been chosen from a pool of 54 front end providers. Their selection follows the April 2022 call for expressions of interest in joining the prototyping exercise.
All 54 companies fulfil a number of “essential capabilities” that were outlined in the call, while the five providers chosen best matched the “specific capabilities” required for the assigned use case.
The prototyping exercise is an important element in the ongoing two-year investigation phase of the digital euro project. It is expected to be completed in Q1 2023 when the ECB will also publish its findings.
The EU is among some 100 jurisdictions actively exploring central bank digital currencies, which are digital forms of sovereign currencies like the US dollar or the euro.
Although the EU might be considered far behind countries like China – which already has citizens using a CBDC in real-world trials – it is ahead of other major jurisdictions like the US, which has yet to decide if one is of national interest.