The European Central Bank, or ECB, has announced it will be collaborating with five companies for the development of potential digital euro user interfaces.
In a Friday announcement, the ECB said it had chosen "Big Four" tech company Amazon, fintech firm Nexi, Spanish digital bank CaixaBank, French payments platform Worldline and the European Payments Initiative, or EPI, to each focus on developing a prototype based on specific use cases of the digital euro. According to the central bank, the firms will create front-end prototypes, which will not be used in later phases of the digital currency project.
The ECB chose the five companies based on their fulfilling “specific capabilities” when compared to 50 other front-end developers that responded to the central bank’s call in April. Officials planned the project to be completed in the first quarter of 2023 as part of a two-year investigation phase into the digital euro, expected to end in October 2023.
As interest in central bank digital currencies seems to be growing globally, ECB officials have been exploring the potential impact of a digital euro on Europe while being vague about if or when the bank could release a CBDC. The central bank commissioned a series of focus groups on digital payment methods in September 2021, which suggested that using digital currency at online and physical stores could be a key feature of a digital euro. An earlier public consultation also suggested that privacy was considered “the most important feature of a digital euro by both citizens and professionals.”