As Facebook prepares to launch its Libra cryptocurrency with a group of international business partners, growing political pressure and looming federal regulations threaten to derail the social media giant’s plan to establish a global financial services network before it debuts.
President Trump argued Thursday that Facebook should have to register as a bank and submit to banking regulations if it plans to move forward with Libra, which company officials have touted as a faster, cheaper platform than traditional financial services. Trump’s criticism follows bipartisan scrutiny in Congress, where committees in both houses have called on Facebook to submit to public hearings.
Efforts to regulate Libra are unlikely to result in a push for Facebook to secure a bank charter, according to experts. But as officials seek ways to protect the U.S. financial system from perceived risks associated with cryptocurrencies, Libra will likely be subject to costly regulations that could cause Facebook to rethink the initiative.
“Libra will not need a bank charter. However, and this is an important, however, Libra, and specifically, financial transactions conducted with Libra coin, will need to comply with important financial laws, notably the Bank Secrecy Act and related anti-money laundering regulations,” banking analyst Bert Ely told FOX Business. “The cost of complying with those regulations may be so great that Libra coin will not be financially viable and hence will never become a financial reality.”
Facebook has already taken steps to reassure regulators about “Libra,” which was announced amid lingering concerns over the company’s data privacy practices. The company has stressed that it will not exercise direct control over Libra. Rather, Facebook will be one of 29 companies that participates in the Libra Association, an independent Switzerland-based entity that will manage the cryptocurrency.
David Marcus, head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency segment Calibra, is set to testify before both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee in the coming days. U.S. lawmakers have called on Facebook to halt all Libra proceedings until proper oversight and regulations can be implemented.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also expressed reservations about Libra this week, warning that the cryptocurrency “raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial security.” The Fed is coordinating with figures at central banks in other countries to monitor the project.
Critics of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, have long held that the platforms are havens for illicit activity because they are unregulated and have no ties to central financial institutions. Facebook said Libra will allow for instant transfers with money without fees, provide financial service support to unbanked individuals and a stable alternative for those living in regions with economic or political volatility.
“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”
Trump added that Facebook “must seek a new banking charter and become subject to all banking regulations” before it launches Libra.
While there is no clear legal standard that would require Facebook to register as a bank, Trump’s assertion that the company would be subject to international banking regulations appears “largely correct,” according to Morningstar equity analyst Eric Compton.
“Trump’s tweet is also just another example of political pressure on Libra and Facebook, another hurdle which we think will be difficult to overcome,” Compton added. “We think it will be a steep, uphill climb for Libra.”
Late Friday, reports surfaced that the Federal Trade Commission voted this week to approve a $5 billion settlement with Facebook to resolve a lengthy probe into the social media giant’s data privacy practices. The potential fine would represent the largest privacy-related civil penalty the FTC has imposed and thus, the largest fine imposed on a technology company
VanEck exec claims Visa, Mastercard were forced to stay away from Libra
While several dissed Facebook’s cryptocurrency venture, Libra, a few others envisioned the social media giant’s move to be a boost to the crypto-industry, due to its global reach. However, the regulatory climate that surrounds the project has been hindering its launch. Recently, the five companies that backed Libra, namely, Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe and Mercado Pago, followed the footsteps of PayPal and announced that they would no longer be part of this project.
Director, Digital Assets Startegy at VanEck , Gabor Gurbacs, is the latest to comment on the issue, claiming that these companies are being urged to leave the crypto-project. He took to Twitter and said,
“Every company that is leaving #Libra is likely, in some ways, forced to do that. It’s unfortunate and I am sorry that capital markets aren’t free.
Now you have a first-hand understanding why censorship-resistance is important!
> Welcome to #Bitcoin!”
Recently, these companies received letters from a few US senators, urging them to withdraw from the project. The letter stated that if the companies didn’t steer away from the project, they would have to encounter regulatory obligations. Gurbacs addressed the same in his tweet and said that regulatory burdens have hindered these companies from experimenting and innovating. He concluded his tweet by saying,
“America can do better!”
Recently, the New York-based investment giant, VanEck, withdrew its Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund [ETF] application, a month before the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] was scheduled to give its final verdict about the approval or rejection of the application.
Additionally, the SEC also rejected Bitwise’s application that seeked the approval of a Bitcoin ETF. The asset management platform had submitted the application back in January. However, the SEC after delaying a verdict several times over the year, has finally dismissed it.
Cryptocurrency market update: Subdued trading action continues on Sunday, XRP/USD gains traction
- Bitcoin struggles to determine its next short-term direction.
- Ethereum rebounds after posting modest losses on Saturday.
- Ripple remains on track to register weekly gains for the second straight week.
Major cryptocurrencies stay relatively calm for the second straight day on Sunday and continue to fluctuate between technical ranges in the absence of significant fundamental drivers that could impact the cryptocurrency market sentiment.
Top-3 coins price overview
Bitcoin (BTC/USD) posted small gains on Saturday and closed the $8,300 and is now moving up and down in a tight channel near that level. As of writing, the pair was up 0.5% on a daily basis at $8,345. Unless the pair advances beyond the critical 200-day moving average (MA), which is currently located at $8,700, and registers a daily close there, it is likely to have a difficult time finding its next direction.
Above the 200-day MA, $8,970/$9,000 (Fibonacci %78.6 retracement of June rally/psychological level) could be seen as the next resistance ahead of $10,000 (psychological level/Fibonacci %61.8 retracement of June rally). On the downside, the first technical support is located at $8,270 (20-day MA) before $7,700/$7,800 area (September 26th, September 30th, October 6th, October 7th low).
Ethereum (ETH/USD) lost 0.5% on a daily basis on Saturday and closed at $180. However, this move didn’t have enough momentum to suggest that sellers were looking to take control of the ETH/USD pair’s movements. In fact, the pair easily recovered Saturday’s losses on Sunday and was last seen trading near $182, adding 1.1% on the day. Looking at the near-term technical levels, $185 (50-day MA) aligns as the first hurdle on the upside before $200 (psychological level/October 11th high). Supports, on the other hand, could be seen at $177 (20-day MA), $170 (October 6th, October 7th low) and $152 (September 26th low).
After gaining nearly 2% on Saturday, Ripple (XRP/USD) is outperforming other major cryptocurrencies on Sunday as well. As of writing, the XRP/USD pair was up 1.95% on the day at $0.2783. With this weekend’s rally, the pair remains on track to gain more than 8% on a weekly basis after rising 6.3% in the previous week.
Looking at the daily chart, the Relative Strength Index indicator continues to stretch higher above the 50 mark, suggesting that bullish momentum is gathering strength. The pair could face the first resistance at $0.29 (October 9th high) ahead of $0.3 (psychological level) and $0.3270 (September 18th low). On the downside, supports are located at $0.2635 (50-day MA), $0.2125 (September 24th low) ve $0.20 (psychological level).
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SEC Looks to Suspend “Unlawfully Sold” Telegram (GRAM) Cryptocurrency
The upcoming launch of GRAM tokens has become somewhat of a spectacle for the cryptocurrency community in recent months. With final token disbursement on the horizon, the SEC has filed for emergency action against Telegram and Telegram Open Network (TON), both of whom are offshore entities to the United States. Out of the entire ordeal, the SEC’s classification of GRAM as a security is the biggest risk to the smooth launch and execution of the network, October 11, 2019.
Telegram Crackdown as Expected
Choosing to launch their network and native token without regulatory consultation was seen as a bold move from Telegram; however this appears to have backfired as the SEC has finally decided to “halt” their token offering. Nearly $1.7 billion has been raised by TON to launch a blockchain-enabled payment network that can be used over their messaging app and the scope of potential mainstream adoption is arguably on par with that of Facebook’s Libra, should that ever see the light of day.
The biggest concern for the SEC, at this point, is that GRAM tokens will be sent to respective investors before October 31, 2019. In light of this, the regulator believes this opens up the possibility of the United States market becoming a dumping ground for the tokens.
What irks the regulator the most is when companies issue tokens and don’t register them with the SEC. As the SEC describes, they allegedly evaded registration of their “security” by simply designating it as a ‘cryptocurrency’.
Veering Treatment From the Regulator
In one instance, the regulator could decide to impose a fine on a $4 billion initial coin offering (ICO) that is less than a basic business purchase and allows the project to continue working; or, they decide to completely stop the project from running in the country because they didn’t bow down to U.S. authority, which may open doors for Libra.
By the SEC’s definition, both EOS and Telegram conducted “unlawful digital token sales”. Whether EOS and GRAM are securities or not is up for debate, but that one small difference can’t possibly account for such a large deviation in their treatment.
In the age of decentralized money networks that are self-regulating, the SEC is fighting a very obvious power struggle, and they will do anything to ensure they do not lose their authority over this segment.