Facebook is willing to delay its entrance into the cryptocurrency market to work with regulators, Facebook executive David Marcus said in prepared remarks ahead of Congressional hearings on Libra this week.
Marcus’ statement is Facebook’s strongest indication yet of its desire to work with regulators on Libra’s development. The company knew Libra might be a hard sell when it announced the digital currency last month, which is why it decided to share the news so far ahead of Libra’s planned launch early next year.
But Libra has been harshly received. Politicians on the left and right have expressed skepticism that Facebook, already under attack by regulators around the world over privacy concerns, can be trusted with a digital currency.
Marcus, who headed up Libra for Facebook, is scheduled to testify before the Senate banking committee on Tuesday and the House financial services committee on Wednesday. He will likely be asked about privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and the stability of the financial system, all issues lawmakers say Libra raises. Marcus’ testimony suggests the company is willing to work with legislators to address those concerns.
“Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulatory concerns and received appropriate approvals,” Marcus said in his prepared remarks, which were released Monday.
But a company spokesperson clarified this means Facebook will not release any products for using Libra, such as its Calibra wallet, without regulatory approval. The decision on whether to launch Libra by early 2020 as expected will be up to its governance body, the Libra Association, a coalition of 28 companies and nonprofits that includes Facebook.
But urgings from Marcus and Facebook that they’ll work with lawmakers on Libra, and meetings company representatives have already had with regulators, have not stopped some from expressing strong objections.
“Allowing big tech companies to take over the payment system or position themselves to influence monetary policy would be a huge mistake and is surely a threat to our democracy,” Senate banking committee ranking member Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, said during Powell’s semi-annual testimony last week.