Facebook Posts Lobbying Retainer Amid Cryptocurrency Controversy

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Facebook has hired a Washington-based lobbying firm in light of increased Congressional and regulatory pushback the social media network has received due to its forthcoming cryptocurrency offering, Libra

The social media giant in August retained consulting shop FS Vector for support on “issues related to blockchain policy,” according to lobbying registration documents filed with Congress.

Facebook formally unveiled the details of its planned blockchain digital currency initiative in June, which could potentially bring the world’s “unbanked” billions into the digital economy by allowing anyone to securely buy, sell or send money to others via Facebook. The proposed digital currency, which has yet to meet regulatory approvals, is set to launch sometime next year.

Announcement of the social network’s forays into the digital asset space has since raised serious concerns among lawmakers. Congress in July drafted a bill, titled “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act,” which would prohibit “large platform utilities”—defined as a tech company that earns annual global revenues of $25 billion or more—from being a financial institution or operating “a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.”

House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) in June called for a moratorium and Congressional review of Facebook’s Libra project, “given the company’s troubled past.” Appearing in July on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Waters likened Facebook’s cryptocurrency venture to “starting a bank without having to go through any steps to do it.”

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell in July posited that “Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability.”

President Trump raised concerns about Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency as well, tweeting in July that “if Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks.”

FS Vector, which was founded in 2018, bills itself as a regulatory compliance, public policy and business strategy advisory firm that specializes in the fintech, cryptocurrency, blockchain and financial services markets.

FS Vector partner John Collins leads the Facebook account. Collins formerly served as vice president of international policy at the American Bankers Association’s international subsidiary, the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade. Prior to that, he was a staffer on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and also led Congress’ first work into digital currencies in 2013. 

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