Business

Dan Taylor

Facebook cryptocurrency meets opposition in Europe

Facebook’s plan to take over the world with its new cryptocurrency appeared to hit a significant snag today, after vocal opposition from politicians in France to the proposals.

Political opposition came from French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who suggested the French central bank should review the proposals, Bloomberg reported. In particular, Le Maire said the cryptocurrency, known as Libra, should not and could not become a sovereign currency.

In an interview with Europe 1 radio, Le Maire was unequivocal in his view that the Libra cannot become a sovereign currency, saying, “It is out of question…[for Libra to] become a sovereign currency. It can’t and it must not happen.”

Citing a range of concerns including privacy, terrorism financing and money laundering, Le Maire called on the Group of Seven central bank heads to report on the project ahead of their next meeting, scheduled for July.

The developments follow comments from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney at a separate event this week, where he said that any proposals would ultimately be subject to the most rigorous levels of scrutiny.

“Anything that works in this world will become instantly systemic and will have to be subject to the highest standards of regulation,” Carney said.

While Carney stressed the need for “an open mind,” other of his contemporaries were less impressed. German MEP Markus Ferber warned that with its international clout, regulators should be mindful of the risks of Facebook operating as a “shadow bank,” with potential implications for the global financial system.

Summing up his objections, Le Maire said Facebook’s size and power in particular made this a cause for concern for regulators.

“This money will allow this company to assemble even more data, which only increases our determination to regulate the internet giants,” the minister said.

Facebook’s Libra coin has been much trailed, as the firm’s major play in the cryptocurrency space. However, with regulatory opposition in Europe and elsewhere already rearing its head, it’s clear the social media giant still has work to do to meet the approval of regulators worldwide.

The project is being developed by Facebook in partnership with firms including Visa and Uber, and aims to address the inherent instability of SegWitCoin (BTC), while retaining the flexibility and convenience of blockchain payments.

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