Facebook’s cryptocurrency hopes hit a wall in Washington

Facebook’s cryptocurrency hopes hit a wall in Washington

Prospects of Libra being given the green light to launch in 2020 don’t look good. The regulators need to be careful not to delay the approval process for political reasons. It is right to expect Libra to provide the same or better AML protection for funds transfer in comparison with other competitors e.g. Western Union and Moneygram. However, a politically motivated delay will only result in multiple other similar cryptocurrencies to be launched in the meantime which may be less well regulated. Libra is trying to fill a big gap by trying to provide cheap or even free money transfer facility to potentially some of the poorest migrant workers across the globe. This market is ripe for disruption and could change the lives of those most in need. Libra could provide the regulators with an opportunity to monitor a significant market for such transfers that is currently being filled by unofficial channels and may in future be covered by unregulated cryptocurrencies or digital money transfer businesses based in poorly regulated locations. Facebook should be given the benefit of the doubt on its Libra business model and held to account for any past breaches of data privacy or other regulations where applicable. Best not to mix these two issues!

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Ayaz Siddiqui, 22nd July 2019

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