Facebook’s launching of its new cryptocurrency, Libra, jointly with 27 major companies – Vodafone and PayPal, among others – has been perceived as a threat by some major economic players. Reactions to the announcement came swiftly. Powell, governor of the Federal Reserve, assured that the Fed would have strict requirements as far as Libra’s security, stability and regulation are concerned; the G7, that it would establish a top-level forum to analyse its potential financial risks; and the Bank of England, that it would approach Libra with an “open mind, but not an open door"". Even the Financial Services Committee of the US House of Representatives has gone as far as to ask Facebook executives to halt the initiative immediately.
So far, we observed bigtech companies partnering with banks to enter the financial services industry, but Libra represents a turning point as it is a standalone entity entering the payments segment, which is one of the most profitable in the financial services business. It is an interesting step forward in the evolution of financial innovation, in terms of efficiency and inclusiveness, but other considerations such as privacy, financial stability and degree of market competition remain to be analysed. Libra’s final implementation will depend on the trust level that Facebook is able to generate with its new currency among economic players.
In ‘How Will the New Global Digital Currency Affect Us?', we explain Libra in simple terms, its differences with respect to traditional cryptocurrencies, as well as the challenges it faces and the impacts it could have on the global financial system.