The European Commission has announced that a bill for a digital euro will be proposed in 2023.

As Politico first reported, EC finance chief Mairead McGuinness officially revealed the EU’s formal consideration of digital euro legislation at a fintech conference on Wednesday.

“We aim to introduce the legislation in early 2023,” the Financial Services Commissioner said. “A specific legislative consultation in the coming weeks”.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is already experimenting with designs and systems for a digital euro, with a prototype expected in late 2023. If a digital euro is to be implemented, it will require the stamp of approval of the Eurozone governors. If they give the green light, the digital euro could be ready for issuance in 2025.

The digital euro is a central bank digital currency (CBDC), a financial instrument that central banks around the world are exploring very seriously. The increased interest in CBDCs stemmed from growing concerns that national currencies will ultimately be undermined by the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies.

“If we don’t meet this demand, others will,” Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB Executive Board, said in mid-November, pushing for the implementation of a digital euro.

Last year, the ECB conducted an investigation and published a report on digital currencies. It found that a digital euro can help lower interest rates, speed up transaction processes and decrease the use of cash.

Regardless of the reported benefits, central bankers face an uphill battle to win over the public. Research by the UK economic affairs committee and Germany’s central bank shows a majority of respondents oppose government-backed digital currencies citing skepticism of benefits and fear of government meddling.

Related: IMF recommends CBDC and global crypto standards for financial stability

But official interest in CBDCs around the world has taken off with Kenya’s central bank recently seeking public input on a digital shilling, while Thailand has already begun implementing regulation for a future retail CBDC. The Central Bank of the Bahamas was one of the first to implement a CBDC, the Sand Dollar in October 2020.

However, China retains first mover advantage in the digital currency world. The country has outperformed the international community with continuous and significant advancements in the CBDC space.

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