Facebook’s Digital Currency Is a ‘Long Way From Launch’ but It’s Already Under Government Scrutiny
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Wednesday that the company’s planned cryptocurrency coin is a “long way from launch,” but policy makers are already gearing up to scrutinize it with U.S. lawmakers planning to hold a hearing next month.
“Regulators have concerns,” Sandberg acknowledged Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. “We’re already meeting with them. We know we have a lot of work to do, but this was an announcement of what we would like to do with a roadmap for people to jump in and help us do it.”
A day earlier, the social-media giant unveiled plans for a new global financial system based on a stablecoin—a digital currency that’s supported by established government-backed currencies and securities.
The project, more than a year in the making and including 27 partners, was immediately met with criticism from politicians in the U.S. and Europe. Some representatives in Washington questioned whether it would have appropriate oversight, while the French finance ministersaid he was concerned about money laundering and terrorism finance.
In a Wednesday statement, the Senate Banking Committee said it had scheduled a July 16 hearing that will focus on “examining Facebook’s proposed digital currency and data privacy considerations.”
Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the banking panel, is among lawmakers who’ve expressed skepticism that the tech giant can protect consumers’ financial data following allegations that it failed to safeguard users’ personal information.
Facebook has said the new digital token, named Libra, isn’t expected to launch until at least next year.
“We announced this early,” Sandberg said. “We know this is a heavy, heavily regulated space. We need to talk to people, meet with people, and that’s what we’re doing and we are then going to launch.”