The European Central Bank (ECB) has taken what could be a big first step toward launching a digital currency.
Even as it wraps up a study of the pros and cons of launching a digital currency, ECB executives want to trademark the term “digital euro,” Bloomberg reports.
The central bank’s legal office has filed an application for the trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which was confirmed by a spokesman for the ECB, the news service reported.
The ECB is expected to soon release its assessment of whether to launch a digital euro, a move that comes as central banks around the world explore digitization amid a time of revolutionary change in the payments sector.
ECB President Christine Lagarde has been talking the issue up, telling members of the European Parliament last week that a public airing of the highly anticipated digital currency report is only a matter of days away.
“The Eurosystem has so far not made a decision on whether to introduce a digital euro. But, like many other central banks around the world, we are exploring the benefits, risks and operational challenges of doing so,” Lagarde told EU lawmakers. “We have a duty to play an active role in balancing the risks and benefits of innovation in payments, so that money continues to serve Europeans well.”
In particular, Lagarde, in previous remarks, has pushed the idea of a digital euro as a crucial alternative to private digital currencies. A digital currency would be a supplement to cash, not a replacement, the ECB chief has said.
Lagarde has also called upon European governments to boost education to ensure that workers across the broader economy are able to take advantage of the emerging digital economy and to avoid creating another divide in the labor market.