Even as Facebook is drawing widespread criticism from financial policymakers and regulators across the world, especially from Europe and America, for Facebook’s plan to launch its own cryptocurrency “Libra”, the social media behemoth’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that Libra would be rolled out only after addressing all concerns raised by these regulators.
It clearly hints that the Libra launch may not meet the deadline promised earlier. Facebook had announced that Libra – a new digital coin backed by four official currencies and available to billions of social network users around the world – would be launched by the middle of next year.
Speaking to his employees in two internal meetings in July this year, Zuckerberg said, “But part of what we’re trying to do overall on these big projects now that touch very socially important aspects of society has a more consultative approach. So not just show up and say, “Alright, here we’re launching this. Here’s a product, your app got updated, now you can start buying Libras and sending them around.”
On October 1, ‘The Verge’ had published text and audio from recent internal meetings at Facebook where CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered tough questions from employees who are concerned about the company’s future.
Admitting to the concerned employees that there are issues that have to be sorted out before the launch of Libra, Zuckerberg stated that there are real issues. Finance is a very heavily regulated space. There are a lot of important issues that need to be dealt with in preventing money laundering, preventing financing of terrorists and people who the different governments say you can’t do business with. There are a lot of requirements for knowing who your customers are. We already focus a lot on real identity, especially across Facebook, so there’s even more that we need to do in order to have this kind of a product.
It may be recalled here that several EU countries have been openly expressing their concerns about the threat Libra poses to the financial stability of their countries. Major EU countries such as France and Germany have also publicly criticized the social media giant’s Libra project, saying it posed risks to EU states’ sovereignty.
Last week, France’s Finance Minister said that the European Union should create a common set of rules for virtual currencies, currently largely unregulated in the bloc, to counter risks posed by Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra.
“And we’re committed to doing that well, and part of doing that well is not just building the internal tools and showing up and saying, “Hey, we think we’ve solved this,” but addressing and meeting with all the regulators upfront, hearing their concerns, hearing what they think we should be doing, making sure other folks in the consortium are handling this appropriately,” he stated.
In a candid reply, the CEO admitted that the company had expected this kind of meddling from the regulatory authorities.
“Part of the process is going to be public, like the hearings that David did over the last couple of days. The public things, I think, tend to be a little more dramatic. But a bigger part of it is private engagement with regulators around the world, and those, I think, often are more substantive and less dramatic. And those meetings aren’t being played for the camera, but that’s where a lot of the discussions and details get hashed out on things. So this is going to be a long road. We kind of expected this – that this is what big engagement looks like,” he said frankly.
Pointing out to the employees how the company views the launch of its cryptocurrency, Zuckerberg said, “And we have this bigger, or at least more exotic, project around Libra, which is to try to stand up a new kind of digital money that can work globally, [and] that will be stable … But it’s a big idea, and it’s a new type of system, especially to be implemented by big companies. We’re not the only ones doing this. We’ve led the thinking and development on it so far, but the idea is to do this as an independent association, which is what we announced with about 27 other companies. By the time it launches, we expect we’ll have 100 or more companies as part of it.”
“I actually wouldn’t be surprised if we end up having similar engagements like this on other socially important things that we’re trying to move, like our big push to get towards more encryption across our messaging apps. That will, over time, be very sensitive when we get closer to rolling it out. Law enforcement, obviously, is not going to be psyched about that. But we think it’s the right thing to protect people’s privacy more, so we’ll go defend that when the time is right. But I think that there will be more things like this, and this is a lot of what being public – trying to make our case publicly and engaging in a more consultative approach – what that looks like,” he further said.