Facebook’s getting ready to do whatever it takes to get its proposed digital currency, Libra, over whatever hurdles increasingly disaffected Washington policymakers might soon put in its way.
These include hiring a DC lobbying firm, FS Vector, which focuses on regulatory compliance and business strategy, specifically to focus on “issues related to Blockchain policy” – capping a lobbying strategy that has so far cost it at least $7.5m, just in 2019 alone.
The social networking giant has already warned Wall St increasing regulatory scrutiny could mean that Libra may never launch, but now seems determined to get the Blockchain-based currency over the finish line no matter what it takes.
The details come from an interesting short report on Facebook’s multi-front Libra fight over at the MIT Technology Review this week, which points out that the company spent $13m in the same fashion in 2018.
At announcement time two months ago, the Review reminds us, both politicians and some central bankers raised concerns about potential Libra security, privacy, and the financial stability risks.
“One particularly vocal critic has been Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Late last week she met with Swiss government officials to discuss Libra, which Facebook has said will be managed by a Switzerland-based nonprofit called the Libra Association. After the sit-down, Waters said she still had concerns about “allowing a large tech company to create a privately controlled, alternative global currency.”
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The Financial Times has also reported that increasing regulatory scrutiny has led some members of the Libra Association to “grow wary as well”, claiming that three unnamed members have even been “privately discussing how to distance themselves from the venture” as pressure builds.
Undeterred, this week Zuckerberg also launched a bug bounty programme that will pay security researchers up to $10,000 if they find critical Libra issues.
“We know it will take a global community to launch a global cryptocurrency,” the Libra Association’s Michael Engle said in a blog post describing the scheme.
“We are committed to taking the time to get this right.”