Europeans have shown great interest in forming the future of the digital euro, the European Central Bank (ECB) said on Wednesday.

The bank initiated a public inquiry in October to comprehend citizens’ approach to such an initiative on digital currency.

A total of 8,221 citizens, firms, and industry associations responded to an online questionnaire, a record for ECB public consultations, the bank said in a statement.

The initial analysis of the survey indicated that privacy of payments ranked highest among the requested features of a potential digital euro (41% of replies), followed by security (17%) and pan-European reach (10%).

“The high number of responses to our survey indicates the great interest of Europe’s citizens and firms in shaping the vision of a digital euro,” said Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB’s Executive Board.

“The opinions of citizens, businesses, and all stakeholders are of utmost importance for us as we assess which use cases a digital euro might best serve.”

A digital euro would be an electronic form of Central Bank money accessible to all citizens and firms – like banknotes, but in a digital form – to make their daily payments in a fast, easy and secure way.

It would complement, not replace cash, and the bank will keep issuing cash in any case.

The protection of privacy would be a key priority so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age.

The ECB said a detailed analysis will be published in spring.

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