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ECB selects five companies to participate in a pilot test of the digital euro to test its use cases

European Central Bank has selected “Big Four” technology companies involving Amazon, Nexi, the Spanish digital bank CaixaBank, and the French payments platform Worldline to create prototypes for the digital euro based on specific use cases.

A collaboration agreement between the European Central Bank, or ECB, and five companies has been announced as a result of the ECB collaborating with five companies to develop a potential user interface for the digital euro.

As part of its announcement on Friday, the ECB announced that it had selected “Big Four” technology companies Amazon, Nexi, Spanish digital bank CaixaBank, French payments platform Worldline, and European Payments Initiative (EPI) to create prototypes based on specific use cases for the digital euro, each of which will focus on specific use cases. As stated by the central bank, the firms will create front-end prototypes of the digital currency for use in the later phases of the project, which will not involve the use of those prototypes in later phases.

In order to facilitate the transfer of digital euros between users and their bank accounts, CaixaBank is developing a mobile app that simulates the steps they will have to follow in order to do so. While Worldline will focus on the offline payments between individuals, EPI and Nexi will focus on the point of sale retail payments between retailers.

As stated in the announcement by ECB, Together with the ECB team, the selected companies will each focus on one specific use case of a digital euro:

  • peer-to-peer online payments – CaixaBank;
  • peer-to-peer offline payments – Worldline;
  • point of sale payments initiated by the payer – EPI;
  • point of sale payments initiated by the payee – Nexi;
  • e-commerce payments – Amazon.

The firms were selected from a pool of 54 front-end providers. They were selected after expressing interest in participating in the prototyping exercise in April 2022. Despite the fact that all 54 companies fulfill a number of “essential capabilities” outlined in the call, only five providers were chosen as they best met the “specific capabilities” required for the specific use case assigned to them. An important part of the digital euro project is the prototyping phase. ECB findings are expected to be published in the first quarter of 2023.

In spite of the fact that these private companies are making efforts to develop different use cases for the Digital Euro, the ECB remains the only institution in charge of developing the CBDC’s code and infrastructure, as well as the integration of the Digital Euro.

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