Major cryptocurrency event, Consensus 2020, has officially kicked off in virtual mode. Consensus: Distributed, Coindesk’s first ever fully virtual conference, featured European Central Bank (ECB) key legal official, Yves Mersch, as the first speaker.

On May 11, ECB board member Mersch delivered an exclusive keynote devoted to central bank digital currencies (CBDC), a central bank digital currency that can be used by consumers. Speaking at 6:45 a.m. ET, the ECB official outlined that the bank is mainly focused on a retail implementation of CBDC.

The ECB voices its focus on retail CBDC implementation

Opposing retail CBDCs to wholesale central bank digital money, Mersch argued that wholesale CBDC implementations would be “largely business as usual.” He said:

“A wholesale CBDC, which is restricted to a limited group of financial counterparties, would be obviously largely business as usual. However, a retail CBDC, accessible to all, would be a game changer. So, a retail central bank digital currency is now our main focus.”

Apparently, the ECB is among the first in the world focusing on a retail CBDC. According to an April report by major blockchain firm R3, the existing CBDC projects by global central banks represent wholesale implementation. Mersch highlighted that central banks are focused on wholesale CBDCs due to risks of shaking the entire global financial system:

“You may wonder why central banks have not chosen to provide retail access to central bank money despite access to the technology so far […] The main reason is that introducing a retail CBDC could have major consequences for the whole financial system.”

Cash is here to stay

Despite outlining the ECB’s focus on working closely on CBDC implementation, Mersch still noted that CBDC adoption largely depends on preferences by people. As such, the ECB official emphasized that cash remains one of the most popular payment methods in Europe. 

As much as 76% of all transactions in the euro area are carried out in cash, amounting to more than a half of the total value of all payments, Mersch stated. The ECB is still engaged in exploring CBDC use to be able to provide CBDC solutions when it’s needed, Mersch said, concluding: “If and when time comes, we want to be ready and let me assure you we will be ready.”

Consensus: Distributed brings together more than 13,000 attendees from May 11 to May 15, featuring over 100 sessions carried out online. As reported by Cointelegraph, Consensus’ creators decided to conduct the crypto event virtually in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Consensus 2020 day one comes on the same day with the long-anticipated Bitcoin (BTC) halving event, which will result in miner block reward halving from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC. To celebrate one of the biggest crypto events of 2020, Cointelegraph is hosting a Bitcoin halving party on YouTube on May 11 at 10 a.m. ET. The event features major crypto figures including Bitcoin bull Tim Draper and early BTC adopter Roger Ver

Use the link to join.