The European Central Bank (ECB) has said that it is investigating how it might apply blockchain technology for its own purposes.
The statement was made in a new consultation report on the technologies used to run the region's securities and payments settlement systems and how they can be improved.
The ECB said that, as part of its consultation process, it is looking at how blockchain applications could improve or hamper this market infrastructure.
The report notes:
"As part of its vision, the Eurosystem intends to assess their relevance for the different services it provides to the banking communities (payments, securities settlement as well as collateral). This investigation will identify opportunities that these new technologies may provide, as well as the challenges that they create."
The ECB has spoken out about digital currencies in the past, describing them as “inherently unstable” in a report published last March. At the time, the central bank acknowledged that the technology could have an impact on its ability to conduct monetary policy.
Yet officials from the ECB have previously expressed an openness to digital currencies and blockchain tech more generally.
Yves Mersch, a member of the central bank's executive board, told attendees at a banking conference last month in Paris that innovative new payments technologies like the blockchain have the potential to disrupt card-based payments and the broader financial system.
"These technologies, of which Blockchain is probably the best-known example, can potentially have a profound impact on whole financial 'ecosystem'," he said.
According to Financial News, the publication comes as Target2-Securities, a new platform that will enable integrated settlement of securities across the EU, has been experiencing technical issues.