Facebook has taken center stage yet again.
A month after the announcement of Libra, Facebook’s “GlobalCoin” is trending yet again. With the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell raising concerns about Libra with respect to money laundering, privacy, and financial stability, and even the United States President himself calling for Facebook to “seek a new Banking Charter,” Libra is front and center yet again.
In light of all this, it is important to clear the clutter behind the Libra project and to do the same, Christina Smedley, Head of Marketing and Blockchain at Facebook, sat down with Longhash in an interview. Currently handling branding for Calibra, the Facebook executive stated that centralization will not be centric to Libra, and people need not worry about the concentration of control.
The Libra association, which will be based in Switzerland to oversee the functioning of the cryptocurrency, has been met with a lot of skepticism, especially in the decentralized currency world. Further, the 28-member consortium consisting of some of the biggest companies in the world will share this responsibility. According to Smedley,
“The association is going to be responsible for taking the Libra network to a permissionless state, and that would begin within 5 years. Facebook will just be one organization in the association.”
Privacy is always a concern when talking about Facebook. Throw a cryptocurrency and a wallet controlled by the social media giant into the mix, and you have a worried consumer base. When asked about these concerns, Smedley stated that Calibra will be a “private network,” but the social data will be “kept separate” from the customer’s financial data. However, things can change as they “haven’t finalized everything.”
Talking about regulatory concerns, specifically with respect to KYC guidelines, she stated that Libra will adhere to the regulations of the country in which Facebook is operating in, and just like any other “financial services” company, will roll out information on a user if a government came asking. However, these would only be applicable if the regulations were in light of “money laundering, or criminal intent.”
The cobwebs on regulation that will have to be addressed pose a hassle for the unbanked, a class whom Facebook claim will be at the center of the Libra project. To this, Smedley stated,
“We’ve talked about this a lot internally. We aren’t going to be able to initially help the most unbanked, the poorest of the poor. Because you will have to follow your local country guidelines. And because we are who we are, we will do those properly. “
Central Bank chiefs have been up-in-arms against the Facebook Libra project, demanding more information to possibly regulate it out of existence, given the practical threat it poses for everyday fiat currency. Lawmakers in the US have even called for a halt to its development, but Libra persists.
When asked whether the cryptocurrency could “shake up” Central Banks, Smedley was cautious. She stated that Libra will be about the community, complete with the developers and networks and replacing central banks is not on Facebook’s agenda.
However, regulation is not what is concerning the FB Head of Blockchain. It is people’s perception of the coin. With the ongoing news influx, Libra is taking the spotlight in the cryptocurrency, technology, finance and governance realms, and not in a good way. She stated,
“So my biggest worry is that it doesn’t get a fair chance, and that people dismiss it without actually letting it get to the people that we really want to serve. That’s what keeps me up at night.”
Libra, to be fair, has gotten a lot of smack since its announcement. From the very name “Libra” rumored to be a snide attack at the Winklevoss twins, to the consortium being filled with corporate-conspirators mulling the possibility of seizing the financial and technological world, Libra has been handed a world of hate, and it isn’t even close to launching yet.
In closing, Smedley stated that Libra is not what is made out to be,
“I think they [the people] thought it [Libra] was going be a centralized Facebook coin, and it’s not. “