Digital euro may still be five years away, ECB's Panetta says

FILE PHOTO: Fabio Panetta is seen in his office ahead of his appointment to the European Central Bank's executive committee, in Rome, Italy September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank could decide around mid-year whether to proceed with a digital euro but the formal launch of the currency may still be around five years away, ECB board member Fabio Panetta said on Friday.

If the process gets the go ahead this year, there will a two-year investigation phase and a two to three year implementation phase, Panetta told a conference.

“Five years is a long time but you should bear in mind that a (digital euro) is not simple and it is not simply a technical issue,” Panetta said. “Its introduction will inevitably have a very strong impact not only on payments and financial markets, both domestic and international, but also more broadly on the entire society.”

ECB President Christine Lagarde last month said she hoped the digital euro could be read in four years.

Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Alison Williams