Italy’s Cipollone Defends Digital Euro as He Seeks ECB Role

Remarks at a parliamentary hearing suggest no digital currency swerve when Fabio Panetta steps down from his role at the European Central Bank in November.

AccessTimeIconOct 9, 2023 at 3:24 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 9, 2023 at 4:22 p.m. UTC

Piero Cipollone defended plans for a digital euro during a Monday lawmaker hearing, as the Italian central banker seeks approval to replace central bank digital currency (CBDC) supremo Fabio Panetta at the European Central Bank (ECB).

Cipollone, who has been the Bank of Italy’s deputy governor since 2020, is the sole candidate to replace crypto skeptic Panetta when he steps down from the central bank's executive board in November. Cipollone's Monday remarks suggest he won’t stray far from existing ECB digital currency policies.

A digital euro would “reinforce the ability to pay with public money throughout Europe with a technology and infrastructure that is based in Europe,” he told members of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, promising offline functionality, accessibility and “excellent solutions” to protect privacy.

Cipollone’s eight-year term has already been approved by eurozone finance ministers and the ECB itself, making his ascension to the position all but certain. Lawmakers also favored his candidacy 30-3 in a non-binding vote held shortly after the debate.

Panetta has previously railed against private crypto as a greed-fueled Ponzi scheme and has also led ECB work on a digital euro, despite significant lawmaker skepticism about the benefits of the project for retail users.

In a response to an earlier written questionnaire from lawmakers, Cipollone said that blockchain innovations bring “significant risks,” but that the challenges of a CBDC for financial stability and lending could be managed through measures like imposing holding limits on citizens.

In a recent letter seen by CoinDesk, a group of cross-party EU lawmakers asked the ECB to postpone any decisions on a retail CBDC until they can agree on legal constraints in controversial areas such as privacy.

UPDATE (Oct. 9, 16:22 UTC): Adds details of committee vote.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.