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When Facebook’s Libra Team Came To Congress

“Staffers challenge Facebook’s happy talk about its digital currency in a briefing,” reports the American Prospect, introducing a new article in a series written anonymously by Congressional staffers, this time a House Democratic aide “who attended a briefing last Thursday with executives who are developing Libra…”

“Such briefings are commonplace to convince staffers who write legislation (and by association the members they serve) of the righteousness of corporate causes.”

The briefing was fascinating. The lead representative, the head of policy for Libra, kicked it off by admitting that the whole endeavor required a “suspension of disbelief.” They were asked about the timeline, and said they hoped to have Libra operational in about a year, which they kept suggesting was a prolonged timeline, but didn’t seem lengthy to anyone in the room.

They kept selling Libra as a means of providing banking services to 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world. When challenged on how they were going to do that, and asked directly whether they’d figure out how exactly a digital currency would be an answer for people who can’t access credit currently, they said, “The short answer is no.” The phrase “the miracle of blockchain” was used at one point…

Because Facebook is proposing to take over a role traditionally under the purview of central banks, not private companies, we should expect the skepticism we heard in the room from staffers to be publicly aired by House Financial Services Committee members on July 17.


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