The head of the Swiss financial markets watchdog has spoken out on the perceived pressure for the nation arising from Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project being based in Geneva, as well as the potential opportunities cryptocurrency tech brings.
In an interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper, Mark Branson, director of the Financial Market Authority (FINMA), said that while Libra may be viewed as somewhat controversial internationally, it’s not his agency’s role to “facilitate” the project. Instead, “We have to explain and apply the existing rules,” he said.
However, Branson also said that if Switzerland wants to become a major financial center, it will have to live with the potential risks of working with such major projects as Libra.
He told the paper:
“High finance can bring reputational risks. This is true everywhere in the world. But I have a hard time thinking that Switzerland should become a second-rate financial center just to avoid such risks. The decisive factor is whether Switzerland has credible regulation and supervision as well as appropriate framework conditions for large players.”
While regulators worldwide having expressed concerns over the financial risks of the Facebook-led project, Branson said FINMA wasn’t under pressure to apply tough rules to Libra. “Libra has big ambitions,” he said. “We did not need foreign pressure to recognize this.” He added that Libra’s 28 members include “successful and huge corporations.”
In recent weeks, lawmakers from the U.S. have been travelling to Switzerland to hold talks over Libra and its potential regulation.
Noted Libra critic, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), who heads the House Financial Services Committee, recently said she still had doubts over the cryptocurrency project after discussions with Swiss regulators.