Facebook is fighting a rearguard action to get Washington onside after it shocked regulators and lawmakers with an announcement on June 18 that it was hoping to launch a new digital coin called Libra in 2020.
Since then it has faced a barrage of criticism from policymakers and financial watchdogs at home and abroad who fear widespread adoption of the digital currency by the social media giant’s 2.38 billion users could upend the financial system.
Critics have expressed anger that the company would have got so far in its plans for such a potentially groundbreaking project without extensive input from policymakers, especially when it is already in the spotlight over privacy issues.
The Senate Banking Committee will question David Marcus, the company’s top executive overseeing the project, on issues ranging from how Libra could affect global monetary policy to how customer data will be handled.
Marcus, who was president of PayPal from 2012 to 2014, will try to assuage concerns by promising that Facebook will not begin offering Libra until regulatory issues are addressed, according to prepared testimony the committee posted on Monday. “We know we need to take the time to get this right,” Marcus, who is also due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, will say. Marcus is likely to get a frosty reception from Democratic lawmakers who already believe the company is too large and careless with consumer data. He is also likely to face skepticism from Republicans after President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also voiced concerns.
“They’re going to have to convince us of very high standards before they have access to the U.S. financial system,” Mnuchin said on Monday.