BBVA CEO says demand for digital euro remains unclear

A senior executive at the major Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) has raised concerns about the digital euro and questioned customer needs.

Pablo Urbiola from the BBVA’s digital management team has asked the European tax authorities to thoroughly examine the possibility of issuing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Urbiola said at a conference held by the European Bankers Federation on Friday that despite the growing demand for European CBDCs, it remains unclear exactly what kind of customer demand the technical euro has.

“With all the innovations that are taking place in the payments market, it is not clear which customers requesting a digital euro can meet that other initiatives may not be able to make possible.”

The CEO emphasized that the European Central Bank should weigh up all the opportunities and risks of a digital euro, taking into account the various design options. “It is important that the common framework designed by the ECB is flexible enough to allow private companies to develop business models in a competitive space,” said Urbiola.

Urbiola said the ECB wants to face the myriad of challenges related to the digital euro: “For example, if a digital euro is aimed at responding to the declining use of cash, it should be established as an electronic version of cash – i.e., simply, easy to use, with basic functionality. But if a digital euro is aimed at countering the threat of foreign digital currencies, “it will be able to replicate some of the more advanced functions of these initiatives”.

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The CEO said banks in Spain are preparing to adopt the digital euro and said that BBVA, along with 15 other major banks, had participated in preliminary tests related to the issuance of their digital currency, the ECB.

Urbiola’s remarks come shortly after the ECB announced that the digital euro could play an important role in combating “artificial currencies” in cross-border payments. In early June, the ECB announced its annual euro review and expressed concern over the rise of artificial currencies led by foreign tech giants apparently related to Facebook’s Diem project.



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