Facebook Set on 2020 Launch for Libra, Despite Regulators’ Pushback

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David Marcus, the head of Calibra at Facebook, has said that a 2020 launch for Libra remains the company’s goal, despite regulators’ intense hostility toward the project.

In an interview with Swiss newspaper NZZ on Sept. 20, he said that in the intervening time, the team behind Libra would need to address all concerns adequately and to create a suitable regulatory environment.

“I see Libra facing greater user acceptance problems than regulatory ones”

Marcus addressed regulators’ fears that the social media giant’s planned stablecoin could potentially disrupt central bank monetary policy and destabilize the global financial system. 

Such concerns have ostensibly been fuelled by the stablecoin’s potential exposure to 2.7 billion monthly users of Facebook’s three wholly-owned apps — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

Yet Marcus argued against any prospective threat to sovereign monetary policy from Libra, noting that:

“Each Libra is deposited one-to-one with traditional currencies and no new money is created. There is no impact on interest and yields. In this sense, the Libra reserve cannot disturb monetary policy either. In any case, it is unlikely that users will pay for an espresso […] with Libra in the future. Instead, they will use it where it offers benefits, such as international payments or for micro-payments.”

By contrast, the executive said he anticipated the digital coin would initially “see acceptance problems rather than regulatory ones,” noting that consumers would need some time to properly grasp what they can use Libra for. He added that the network would likely see “considerable frictions” at its inception, due to the need for interested parties to undergo robust identification procedures. 

Facebook will not have access to data from Calibra

In light of the significant controversies that have beset Facebook and its handling of user data in recent years, NZZ probed Marcus in regard to the project’s approach to protecting user privacy. 

In response, he claimed that Facebook will not be able to access data from Calibra and underscored that the social network’s data and that of the Libra payments network would remain strictly separate.

As reported, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spent the past week in Washington D.C. for a series of meetings with policymakers to discuss internet regulatory matters such as privacy, competition and its handling of political content.

At a dinner with senators, the CEO is reported to have fielded specific questions in regard to Libra, including whether or not Facebook would opt to initially launch outside of the United States.

Senator Josh Hawley tweeted about a separate meeting with Zuckerberg in which he claimed that the CEO had refused to consider submitting to an independent, third-party audit on censorship, as well as to countenance Facebook potentially selling WhatsApp and Instagram.

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