Those with an instinctual fear that Facebook might destabilize the global monetary system can give themselves a little pat on the back. After realizing the immense public and regulatory scrutiny they are up against with their planned launch of Libra, the social media giant has admitted that any launch at all might be just a dream.
In their Q2 report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook has indicated their first serious doubts in Libra’s future. “There can be no assurance that Libra or our associated products and services will be made available in a timely manner, or at all,” they wrote.
If there’s any doubt why Libra may never launch, the report makes that clear too:
As this initiative evolves, we may be subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States and international jurisdictions, including those governing payments, financial services, and anti-money laundering (AML). In many jurisdictions, the application or interpretation of these laws and regulations is not clear, particularly with respect to evolving laws and regulations that are applied to blockchain and digital currency.
While the criticism of government regulators has a lot of truth to it, as many countries around the world have failed to protect their citizens against bad actors from the dark coin industry, it’s a very interesting spin on what’s really happened here.
Using the U.S. as an example, the scrutiny Facebook has faced from Congress wasn’t because of a lack of regulatory clarity from the government, but because legislators accurately saw that Facebook wasn’t very different from crypto exchanges that take advantage of traders. Facebook has allowed fake accounts, data leaks, and Russian manipulation, just the same as many exchanges have allowed, through a lack of security, know your customer (KYC) and AML controls, unverified accounts to launder money and commit crimes.
If Libra never does launch, it’s done one important thing: put a fire under regulators everywhere. It might not have been a huge priority to regulate and eliminate the bad actors of a small cryptocurrency industry, but when the prospect of a Facebook behemoth taking over the world became probable, they realized they have an important job to do, and fast.
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