ECB’s Yves Mersch: Banks Need Faster Payments to Counter Bitcoin

Commercial banks need to develop faster payment systems to counter the rise of cryptocurrencies, according to one European Central Bank executive.

Yves Mersch, who sits on the ECB’s executive board, made the argument even while dismissing the impact of cryptocurrencies during an event in Rome, according to a Reuters report.

Speaking this morning, Mersch said:

“Banks need to implement instant payments as soon as possible and provide an alternative narrative to the ongoing public debate on the alleged innovation brought by virtual currency schemes.”

Mersch reportedly added that the ECB would experiment with cash “on different digital technologies,” while more “adventurous applications” do not warrant attention.

The statements come a month after another ECB executive board member, Benoît Cœuré, indicated that the bank is not ignoring cryptocurrencies, but rather is monitoring their use.

At the same time, Cœuré maintained the bank’s long-held position that digital currencies are not a threat to the euro, saying “the amounts involved are marginal.”

Despite these claims, a 2015 report by the ECB noted that cryptocurrencies could impact monetary policy and financial stability in the Eurozone. At the time, the bank said bitcoin was more attractive than traditional financial institutions in certain areas, including remittances.

The ECB’s president, Mario Draghi, also recently said it cannot regulate bitcoin, although he did declare that EU member nations cannot launch their own cryptocurrencies.

Yves Mersch image via CoinDesk archives

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