Regulators in both the United States and Europe are already pushing for strong oversight — in one case, Rep. Maxine Waters is pushing for a moratorium on the plans entirely — and every newspaper, tech company and government on Earth is taking a magnifying glass to Facebook’s newly announced ambitions. They’re finding grandiose plans along with big unanswered question
US representatives from both sides of the aisle have already chimed in.
“Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy,” Representative Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement. “We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight.”
She’s asked Facebook to stop the project until Congress can understand it further. She is joined by Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown Mark Warner of the Senate Banking Committee and Republican Representative Patrick McHenry.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told Yahoo Finance it sounds like Facebook is “expanding their monopoly” with its new cryptocurrency project.
“We need to see exactly what their specific proposals are, but I’m very concerned about Facebook’s behavior on a range of fronts. I’m concerned about their size, I’m concerned about their anti-competitive conduct, I’m concerned about their rampant violations of privacy,” Hawley said.
He even called for an investigation into breaking up the social media giant.
“There needs to be an antitrust investigation. I hope one will go forward, but in the meantime, in the immediate future with this consent decree — if it’s just a fine of a few billion dollars, that’s a speeding ticket to Facebook. They need to get serious,” he said. “Name Mark Zuckerberg. Name him, if he has in fact participated in violating consent decree as reports indicate. And let’s consider some tougher penalties, too.
“I don’t trust Facebook with anything,” he said.
“Facebook’s new Libra blockchain project has the potential to be a big step forward towards a more global and inclusive financial infrastructure,” said U.S. Congressman Darren Soto, Co-Chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. “We are encouraged by the possibility of increasing access to mobile and digital payments, which will ultimately benefit our society and become a driver of economic growth. While it is yet unclear how this new technology will be regulated, it is crucial Congress continues to protect consumers and the financial well-being of investors, while simultaneously promoting innovation for these virtual currencies.”
“In the Congressional Blockchain Caucus we are working in a bipartisan manner to educate and maximize Blockchain technologies’ potential for the U.S. economy. We applaud the thoughtfulness behind the Libra Association. If efforts to achieve this multi-level cryptocurrency coordination is successful – one that protects consumers and prioritizes user privacy – this could be a significant advancement for the 21st Century economy,” he said.
On the private side of things, pundit Jim Cramer was ecstatic.
“The disenfranchised will welcome Mark Zuckerberg as a savior, ” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” He sees it as a solution to the underbanked in American cities where “check cashing places” are the closest consumers can get to money services.
Bankers and startup founders see Libra’s success as inevitable.
“They’re not the first company to launch a crypto payment solution, but they do have immense reach obviously through their Facebook platform,” said NAB’s business banking chief Anthony Healy. “With a billion plus users on its platform, it is clearly a threat.”
“If it’s successful, it’s not just going to have the traditional qualities of a corporate currency like Westfield dollars or, Qantas Frequent Flyer points, it’s really a governance play,” said Asher Tan, founder of CoinJar.
“Like all fintech disrupters, they’re all potential threats, but they’re also opportunities for us to learn, and if some of these emerge as real threats we can learn from them, develop our own capabilities and respond appropriately.”