The Digital Programmable Euro, Libra and CBDC: Implications for European Banks

Authors: Philipp Sandner, Jonas Gross, Philipp Schulden, Lena Grale

On July 29, 2020 the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center published a working paper that sheds light on the perception of payment initiatives by interviewing more than 50 senior experts. In this study, we analyze the impact of digital programmable Euro initiatives, such as the Libra stablecoin, and CBDCs, on banks. We find that both Libra and a Euro CBDC might heavily affect European banks. With this article, we provide a summary of the study’s research results. The PDF document can be found here.

Introduction

Key results of the expert interviews

  • First, a digital programmable Euro is demanded by most of the surveyed experts in order to address inefficiencies of the current financial system and increase automation due to a programmable means of payments. This needs to be highlighted as the majority of the surveyed experts leave no doubt that a DLT-based digital programmable Euro is needed.
  • Second, Libra and a Euro CBDC will heavily affect banks’ business models, for example, such that disintermediation of the financial sector and digital bank runs could result from an introduction of a Euro CBDC and disintermediation from an introduction of Libra.
  • Thirdly, experts also see various benefits and new business opportunities that retail, industrial and financial companies can develop and realize in the context of Libra, CBDCs and the digital programmable Euro. Therefore, experts suggest to not only perceive these initiatives as a threat but also as an opportunity.

What are the key benefits of the digital programmable Euro?

Figure 1: Key benefits of the digital programmable Euro

Do we need a digital Euro?

Figure 2: Need for the digital programmable Euro

Is DLT the appropriate technology to implement a digital programmable Euro?

Figure 3: DLT as the appropriate technological framework for the digital programmable Euro

What are the key benefits of a CBDC?

Figure 4: Key benefits of a CBDC

When will a Euro CBDC be issued by the ECB?

Figure 5: Potential launch date of a Euro CBDC

What are the key benefits of Libra?

Figure 6: Key benefits of Libra

Further results can be seen in the following presentation. For a detailed description of the results, please refer to the underlying study.

Conclusion

Our findings suggest that bank-related opportunities emerge besides the discussed risks for banks. Such a digital programmable Euro can create significantly higher efficiency for cross-border payments, enables near real-time settlement with other assets, rights and goods and, above all, a high degree of automation. As a result, this in turn forms the basis for business models associated with the machine economy in the fields of e.g. Industry 4.0, logistics, mobility, energy and IoT.

Our results provide a number of implications. First, banks should not solely regard Libra and CBDC as a threat, but also as a reason to take innovative action to adjust their business models as well as to generate new profitable services. Second, banks could become essential pillars in the Libra and CBDC system in order to generate returns. In addition, banks may provide services within the scope of their traditional range of operations, such as custody and distribution of digital money, along with services such as AML and KYC. Third, a digital programmable Euro enables the programmability of money through smart contracts and thereby enables automated processes as well as financial services such as interest payments, loans, escrow accounts, leasing and factoring. Therefore, a digital programmable Euro could also yield efficiency gains for banks. Fourth, with the introduction of a digital programmable Euro, a high degree of interoperability could be achieved across multiple payment ecosystems.

Remarks

Authors

Jonas Gross is a research assistant at the University of Bayreuth and project manager at the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center. His research focuses primarily on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and stablecoin projects such as Libra. You can contact Jonas by mail (jonas.gross@fs-blockchain.de), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonasgross94/), and Twitter (@Jonas__Gross).

Philipp Schulden is the chief operations officer of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. In the blockchain environment, he has supervised numerous international projects and research initiatives. He also possesses expertise in the field of application possibilities of blockchain technology in the area of Industry 4.0. He completed his studies in Management (M.Sc.) in Germany, Russia, Peru, and South Korea. You can contact him via mail (philipp.schulden@fs-blockchain.de) and LinkedIn (https://de.linkedin.com/in/philipp-marcello-schulden).

Lena Grale is a final year student at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management studying Business Administration with focus on Management, Philosophy and Economics (B.Sc.). In the course of her bachelor’s thesis, she deals with the implications of a digital Euro on the financial sector. You can contact Lena via mail (lena.grale@fs-students.de) or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/lenagrale).

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