Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Dems pan 'Zuck buck,' want Facebook to rein in currency plan

Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency attacked at Senate hearing Facebook Under Bipartisan Attack Over Its Libra Digital Money
Russell Knight | 18 July, 2019, 13:26

"Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulatory concerns and received appropriate approvals", Marcus stressed in his opening statement, later adding that he would accept his salary in libra and trust all of his assets in this digital token.

If Facebook issues its Libra token, she added, the company will "wield huge power that could disrupt" governments and central banks.

Waters held out the prospect of legislation that would prohibit big tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple from becoming chartered or licensed as US financial institutions, and thus able to offer banking services, and specifically from establishing a digital currency.

While Facebook do not expect Calibra to make money at the outset, Marcus said the digital wallet is likely to drive increased usage of the social media platform and yield greater advertising revenue as a result.

"We know we need to take the time to get this right", said Mr Marcus, who is also due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. One Republican on the financial services panel called the digital money idea brilliant, while others said they anxious their Democratic colleagues were trying to stifle progress and thwart vital financial technology.

Duffy seemed to pick up on this and started to talk about how everybody can use a $20 bill and that it doesn't discriminate against anyone, including murderers and people who say frightful things. "So we are discussing a currency controlled by an undemocratically selected coalition of largely massive corporations", she said. This failing, later confirmed by Facebook itself, it just the latest slip-up in what has been a frankly shambolic launch.

It hasn't been an easy few weeks for Facebook and its cryptocurrency project. It followed a series of negative comments and warnings about the Libra plan in recent days from President Donald Trump, his treasury secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

A parade of senators from both parties criticized Facebook at Tuesday's Senate panel hearing, saying the company can't be trusted to handle people's financial transactions.

Facebook has been on the defense amid a backlash over mishandling user data and not doing enough to prevent Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.

Despite the outcry, it would be hard for Congress to block Facebook's plans.

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USA lawmakers from across the spectrum grilled Facebook on its cryptocurrency plans on Tuesday. The digital money operations are being headquartered in Switzerland.

Democratic US Representative Carolyn Maloney pushed Marcus to commit to a Libra pilot program that had one million users and was overseen by US financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve.

"I don't trust you guys".

Under questioning, Marcus alluded to the regulatory gray area that its digital coin could occupy.

Some observers have argued that Libra resembles a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that is based on an index, an investment that would be regulated by the SEC.

Kerner said the U.S. government wants the dollar to be the global reserve currency, and will oppose any "threat to that".

"Applying existing regulations alone may not be enough". But it also raises concerns over the privacy of users' data and the potential for criminals to use it for money laundering and fraud.

"Facebook will only have one vote and will not be in a position to control the association, nor will Facebook or the Libra Association position themselves to compete with sovereign currencies or interfere with monetary policy", he said. He thought it was "delusional" to think individuals would trust the social media company with their "hard-earned" money.

"This is absolutely brilliant", Rep. Sean P. Duffy (R-Wis.) told Marcus.

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