ECB, Eurosystem begins experimental prototyping of digital euro customer interface

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Up to five banks or other payment services providers will be selected to participate without compensation in the development of the digital euro front end.

Progress will continue on the development of the digital euro as the European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurosystem have begun looking for companies to participate in an exercise to prototype customer-facing payments services. Payment service providers, banks and other relevant companies were invited to express interest in the project in an announcement released Thursday.

Eurosystem, which comprises the ECB and the national central banks of countries that use the euro, stated that it will select up to five front-end providers on the basis of their capabilities and the use cases they present. While participants are not required to have previous experience with the service they will prototype, experience will be considered in the selection process.

The prototype providers will be expected to develop front-end applications in accordance with the specifications of the system’s existing backend and interface. They will be free to provide feedback on the existing system, including how it can meet their technical requirements, and they will be welcome to propose additional value-added services. Participants will not be paid for their efforts but may be included in further steps in digital euro development.

The application deadline for the project is May 20, 2022. The project will begin in August and is expected to conclude in the first quarter of next year. The investigative phase of digital euro experimentation will end in October 2023. At that time, a decision from the Eurosystem Governing Council is expected to be made on the development of a real-world digital euro central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Related: More than three-quarters of central banks considering a CBDC: Research

This is the latest in a lengthy series of steps toward a digital euro, which at times has proven to be controversial. Earlier this month, the European Commission received feedback from more than 11,000 people about its digital euro initiative, with members of the public expressing concerns over surveillance and government overreach. Nonetheless, ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta recently expressed the opinion that issuing a digital euro is “likely to become a necessity.”

PayPal is shuttering its San Francisco office: Report

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A spokesperson reportedly hinted the closure was aimed at the company evaluating its “global office footprint.”

Major United States-based payment processor PayPal will reportedly be closing its office in San Francisco, while the headquarters in nearby San Jose will remain available to employees.

According to a Wednesday report from TechCrunch, the payments firm will be closing its offices in downtown San Francisco with its Xoom arm — the division responsible for international digital money transfer services. At the time of publication, PayPal has several job listings for San Francisco as well as 17 other locations across the United States, and 32 international locations.

A PayPal spokesperson reportedly hinted the closure was aimed at the company evaluating its “global office footprint.” Another person at PayPal familiar with internal happenings at the firm said displaced San Francisco employees would also have the option of working remotely.

PayPal released its earnings report for the first quarter of 2022 on Wednesday, reporting the firm had a total payment volume of $323 billion and transaction revenues totaling roughly $6.5 billion. The latter included fees from facilitating “the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies.”

Since announcing it would accept cryptocurrency payments in 2021, PayPal has made inroads into the digital asset space by exploring the development of a stablecoin. In addition, the payments firm established an advisory council in February aimed at supporting endeavors related to crypto, blockchain and digital currencies.

Related: Demand for PayPal’s crypto offering exceeded all expectations, CEO says

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many major crypto and tech companies, but some firms have made an exodus in recent years, possibly due to staff willing to accept remote working conditions amid the pandemic. Major crypto exchange Coinbase announced in May 2021 that it would be closing its San Francisco headquarters in 2022 as part of its commitment to “being remote first.”

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell also said in April that the firm had shut down its global headquarters in the city by the bay following reports several of its employees had been “attacked, harassed and robbed on their way to and from the office.”