ECB Forced to Consider Crypto in Payments – Business AM


The payments landscape has undergone significant changes in the Eurozone. The new study of the European Central Bank (ECB), following the attitude of consumers in this matter, can no longer ignore crypto assets.

Why is this important?

Although the methodology and conclusions of this behavioral survey arguable when it comes to cryptocurrencies, the ECB’s move helps quantify digital asset holdings and how they are used in the Eurozone. Close monitoring of these trends remains of course essential for the central bank. Issuer of public money and custodian of the proper functioning of financial systems, the ECB is responsible for ensuring access to means of payment. With the digital transformation, the monetary institution seeks to identify the importance of a digital euro alongside cash.

Essential: The new data collected within SPACE (Study on consumer payment attitudes of consumers in the euro area) gives a ranking of the size of holdings of crypto-assets and their use for trading or investment purposes.

  • The influence of cryptos on all payments is a new element that was not objectified in the previous study (SPACE was first conducted in 2019).
  • “Since then, cryptocurrencies have begun to penetrate more and more into the mainstream,” the ECB reporters admit.
  • Two main phenomena would explain this adoption:
    • “The far-reaching effects of pandemic-related restrictions probably helped. »
    • “Greater clarity in their regulatory treatment in Europe has probably influenced consumer attitudes. »
  • The developments have been such that the European Central Bank admits that it had to take stock in order to continue to “follow them closely. »

“Adoption by the general public is still low”

39,765 respondents in 17 countries of the Monetary Union were first asked to declare whether they owned crypto assets:

  • The eurozone average amounted to “a modest 4% of the population,” the reporters scratch.
  • The least numerous holders are located in Italy (2%) and the most crypto-oriented users in Luxembourg (8%).
  • As an indicator, the ECB records a below-average population share in France (3%) and proportions aligned with the global trend in Belgium and Germany (4%).

We imagine that the executive board of the European Central Bank, completely anti-Bitcoin & Cie, found some solace in these fully collected statistics crypto winterwith the sector going through major liquidity and confidence crises.

The study also takes the opportunity to further tarnish the image of cryptocurrencies, highlighting the contrast between ambitions and uses.

  • “Despite increased attention to crypto-assets, both in popular culture and markets, their adoption by the general public is still relatively low,” the authors point out.

“Cryptos will continue to attract only speculators looking for bets”

Respondents who indicated that they carried cryptos were then asked about their use. That is, for payment, investment or both purposes:

  • In most countries, there are two or three times as many people who own crypto assets solely for investment purposes.
  • The extreme variations between countries do not allow ECB experts to draw “clear conclusions”, the document admits.

On average in the euro area, barely 10% of digital asset owners only use them for payment. And more than 70% only use bitcoin and other cryptos to invest.

  • In Belgium, more than 60% of crypto holders say they use them exclusively for investment purposes, but nearly 30% have a mixed use, compared to less than 20% in the euro area.
  • In France, hybrid use and use reserved for payments concern around 20% of cardholders.

The last element of language to highlight, the investment dimension takes on an ultra-negative connotation in ECB communications as soon as they relate to cryptocurrencies. Any information pertaining to the bitcoin industry is often derived from the ideological opposition of the monetary institution. In memory, “Cryptos are fundamentally flawed”just like the companies that operate in their ecosystem, Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB’s executive board, had recently exposed.

  • “People like to bet. At horse races, football matches and many other events. And some investors will continue to bet by taking speculative positions in crypto-assets,” he felt good insisting, who no longer hesitates to urge regulators to send Bitcoin at risk.

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