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

European Central Bank board member Yves Mersch has said banks need to launch instant payments systems to counter the rise of cryptocurrencies.

AccessTimeIconNov 30, 2017 at 5:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:13 a.m. UTC

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


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.