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European regulators are already pressing Facebook about its cryptocurrency

European regulators are already pressing Facebook about its cryptocurrency


French and German officials called for scrutiny

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

As Facebook unveiled its cryptocurrency project today, European officials quickly called for scrutiny of the plan, raising concerns over whether the project was sufficiently regulated.

According to comments reported by Bloomberg, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Facebook’s cryptocurrency, called Libra, must not “become a sovereign currency.”

Must not “become a sovereign currency”

“It can’t and it must not happen,” he told Europe 1 radio. Le Maire reportedly called for G7 banking officials to issue a report on Facebook’s plan next month.

A German member of the European Parliament expressed similar concerns, according to Bloomberg, saying Facebook was at risk of becoming a “shadow bank” and that companies “must not be allowed to operate in a regulatory nirvana when introducing virtual currencies.”

Facebook is positioning Libra as a financial system closely tied to the company’s services, including WhatsApp and Messenger. A nonprofit has been set up to oversee Libra, which Facebook says will launch in 2020. Several big names in tech and banking have also signed on to the project, including Mastercard, Visa, Spotify, Uber, and Lyft.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The social network has faced intense scrutiny around the world over its privacy practices, especially in Europe, where regulators have taken a tough stance toward the tech industry. The creation of an alternative digital currency will likely raise new concerns for governments, as Facebook moves to convince its billions of users to adopt Libra.