- Congressional hearings on Facebook’s Libra project are likely to focus more on the company’s privacy failings than on unresolved policy questions for cryptocurrency.
- Lawmakers will probably also grill Facebook blockchain lead David Marcus on the company’s choice of Switzerland as the home for the Libra Association.
- Though Facebook intends to launch Libra next year, regulatory and congressional scrutiny may throw that timeline into jeopardy.
Facebook is about to face the music on Capitol Hill.
In hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, the social media giant will defend its ambitious cryptocurrency project, Libra, which it revealed in June through a white paper and supporting documentation. While Facebook lined up major payments and VC firms to support the project, lawmakers expressed doubts almost immediately, with the U.S. Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees calling for hearings soon after its unveiling.
The Senate hearing will take place on Tuesday, while the House panel will hold its hearing the next day. David Marcus, Facebook’s blockchain lead, will testify at both. The House hearing, at least, will also call other expert witnesses.
Potentially at stake is the timing of Libra’s launch. Facebook said last month that it was targeting a 2020 rollout, but whether the company will be able to meet that deadline is still in the air, and not just for technical development reasons.
For starters, if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decides that Libra resembles an exchange-traded fund (ETF), then Facebook’s ability to launch the cryptocurrency will be dependent on the regulator’s approval.
Congress could also delay Libra’s launch: If lawmakers decide they need to have greater oversight on the project,