If the European Central Bank goes forward with the launch of a digital euro, it would most likely become legal tender in the euro area, according to Executive Board member Fabio Panetta.

"It's a likely outcome," Panetta said, "this will be evaluated in the next 24 months."  However, he stressed that achieving legal tender status "should not be taken for granted."

Such status might offer the central bank-issued digital currency an advantage over other kinds of electronic payments in Europe, which are currently not recognised as legal tender and so aren't always available to consumers as a payment method.

If the ECB succeeds in making the digital euro cost-effective and usable, it may be able to achieve a wider adoption than sceptics of the project believe.

Last week, Panetta pushed back against arguments that a digital euro will be "redundant" in the midst of other alternatives, saying the central bank will make it attractive enough to encourage adoption.

Elvira Nabiullina, the Governor of the Russian Central Bank, spoke at the same event and agreed with Panetta. "We believe a digital currency will have this basis of legal tender. It will be required of merchants," she said.

Nabiullina emphasised the need of "seamless conversion between kinds of money," which she described as "crucial for society's trust in this money."