Italy: ABI is launching a study project on the digital euro

The Italian Banking Association, pending an official decision by the ECB, intends to launch tests on the digital euro

The Italian Banking Association (ABI) has launched studies on a digital euro project, affirming its support for the implementation of a sovereign European digital currency.

According to a statement, the association’s research and development division, ABI Lab, has started a collaboration with some commercial banks in Italy to develop an „experimental“ digital euro.

ABI’s digital euro study will focus on two main areas: technical feasibility analysis and CBDC programmability, in order to create a meaningful distinction from currently existing electronic payment methods.

The Italian company SIA will assist the consortium in technical feasibility studies. SIA is also one of the main partners in the Spunta project, ABI’s blockchain-based interbank settlement programme.

Although the project concerns an experimental form of digital euro, there are no indications of involvement by the Bank of Italy. Instead, the programme’s already announced partners include digital services company Reply and consulting giant PwC.

For ABI, the project is part of a framework of initiatives needed to prepare Italian banks for a potential digital euro. Commenting on the aims and objectives of the project, an ABI spokesperson told Cointelegraph:

„The aim of the initiative is to proactively contribute to the public debate and to support banks operating in Italy to prepare for the future. It is not a matter of anticipating [the European Central Bank’s] decision on the adoption of a digital currency, but rather of exploring possible use cases and reflecting in advance on the consequences of a possible implementation.“
Back in December, an ECB official stated that the study phase regarding the digital euro could go on through 2021. In fact, according to some reports, the European CBDC is still a long way off: a period of at least five years is mentioned.

In France, the central bank is already launching several test protocols for its experimental digital euro. ConsenSys, an Ethereum developer, is among the companies called upon by the Bank of France to collaborate on this project.