Digital Euro: knowing better the preferences of consumers of means of payment
The European Central Bank (ECB) published the findings of its research on citizens’ payment habits and their attitudes towards digital payments to gain a deeper understanding of user preferences. The study was intentionally not focused on the digital euro, given the novelty of the concept and to avoid misconceptions. It shows a strong preference for payment methods with pan-European reach and universal acceptance both in physical shops and online. Most important, the study analyzes how to adopt any new digital payment method and concludes that this method will need to offer compelling advantages over current options that simplify daily life.
Key findings of the report are the following:
- In general, awareness of the digital euro is very low in all segments. Public in general links digital euro with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
- Safety, regulation and stability: once explained what a digital euro is, participants liked the fact that it would be backed by the ECB.
- Merchants do not easily understand the difference between a digital euro and the euro they already use in digital form: They remained skeptical about the introduction of this new means of payment, as many worry it would mean the start of the disappearance of cash. Most merchants would not accept to the digital euro becoming legal tender. Main barriers to accept a digital euro would be: low customer demand, possible financial charges and fees for merchants, poor levels of integration with their existing systems, the possible need to invest in additional technology (terminals, point-of-sale equipment) and the time and effort required to “get up to speed”.
- Unbanked/underbanked/offline population: this group expressed little interest in this concept, and they expressed the need to receive information on the advantages of a digital euro as opposed to the payment methods they currently have at their disposal, and how it would be beneficial for them. Freedom of choice was also very important to these participants, who fear a digital euro would endanger commercial banks and could mean the end of the use of cash. They do not want to be forced to use a new means of payment.