Facebook would leave Libra Association if it moves forward before approval


Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.

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Facebook could be forced to abandon its own cryptocurrency project if the newly created group steering it decides to move forward without regulatory approval, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday during his testiomony at a House Financial Services hearing.

“Facebook will not be part of launching the libra payments system anywhere in the world until US regulators approve,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg said more than once during the first leg of the hearing that he cannot speak for the independent Libra Association, which was officially formed last week. Facebook is joined by 20 other members in the Libra Association, which will govern the currency. However, the original idea for libra was generated inside Facebook by Facebook employees.

Given Facebook’s insistence that libra is separate from its company, lawmakers wanted to know how Facebook would make good on its promise to wait for U.S. regulatory approval. Zuckerberg said if the Libra Association voted to move forward without the clearances Facebook feels it needs, “we would be forced to leave the organization.”

Earlier in the hearing, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., asked if Zuckerberg would also wait for Congress to provide an updated legal framework for regulators who will decide whether the approve the project. Zuckerberg said he thinks Congress has an appropriate oversight role over regulators already, which Velazquez said she takes as a “no.”

However, Facebook is still funding the Libra Association, Zuckerberg said in his testimony. The members have not paid their $10 million fees yet, and Zuckerberg said that figure could change.

The Libra Association recently saw several key members depart, including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and eBay, among others.

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