Banking News

Libra backers get cold feet with EU antitrust probe

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It looks like the controversy surrounding Facebook’s Libra is not going away anytime soon. Earlier this week Bloomberg reported that European Union antitrust regulators are actively investigating the cryptocurrency project. Today the Financial Times says three Libra partners are privately discussing distancing themselves from the venture because of regulatory scrutiny.

At the same time, Facebook is frustrated because the partners are not vocally supporting the project. The FT quoted one backer as saying “Facebook is tired of being the only people putting their neck out.”

Meanwhile, last Saturday, Swiss local news site NZZaS claimed that members of the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will visit Switzerland. They plan to discuss Libra with the country’s data privacy commissioner.

Facebook’s Libra Association, based in Switzerland, will oversee the blockchain-based currency. It has faced a backlash since its announcement this summer over concerns of privacy, trust, and disruption of the global financial system.

Adding fuel to the fire, was Bloomberg’s revelation that the EU’s European Commission is “currently investigating potential anti-competitive behavior” by Libra. The information comes from a questionnaire distributed in July to groups related to Libra’s projects.

The European Commission appears to join the House’s Committee in being concerned about competition restrictions and data privacy. The questionnaire also shared that the EU is investigating Libra’s plans to integrate with WhatsApp and Messenger.

The fiercest criticism has come from the Committee, who requested a complete halt of operations in June, fearing a conglomerate-owned currency is “too big to fail”.

In July, Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, Adrian Lobsinger published a statement. In the announcement, he explained that his organization has requested information about Libra’s activities – and has yet to receive a reply. His request followed the comments made by the head of Calibra, David Marcus, in front of the U.S. Senate.

Marcus outlined the importance of data protection to the Libra Association, but Lobsinger had not been informed of any assessments or plans as he had expected. This week he will supposedly discuss the currency with some of its most vocal critics.

The regulatory bodies join The People’s Bank of China, The Bank of England, the U.K. financial regulator, the Governor of the Bank of France, and leading Chinese economist Zhu Min who have all made statements on Libra.


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