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Elaine Ou

Facebook Could Do to Banks What It Did to Newspapers

Libra isn't just another cryptocurrency. It's a bid for power.

Looking for a social monetary policy

Looking for a social monetary policy

Photographer: Bloomberg

On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, testified about his company’s cryptocurrency project at a hearing held by the House Financial Services Committee. In his testimony, Zuckerberg tried to reassure Congress that Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency would square the circle between financial inclusion and regulatory adherence, consumer privacy and proactive fraud detection. The one thing he didn’t manage to address is whether the world really wants a crypto offering from the social media giant.

Cryptocurrency has acquired an unseemly status where any use is automatically assumed to have nefarious ends. It doesn’t help that the most prominent example, Bitcoin, has been implicated in some horrific criminal conduct. At the same time, a lack of mainstream adoption gives cryptocurrency few redeeming advocates. No surprise, then, that regulators regard Facebook’s proposal with suspicion.