UK Regulators Want a Long Look at Libra, Admonish Facebook’s Mantra to ‘Move Fast, Break Things’

Daniel Kuhn
Jul 2, 2019 at 20:30 UTC
news

Facebook’s former mantra of “move fast and break things” won’t cut it for a senior official at Britain’s top financial watchdog who spoke at the University of Cambridge on Tuesday.

Although Facebook reportedly spoke with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), executive director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard raised a few points of contention about the social media company’s efforts to introduce a frictionless, global tender through the Libra network by June 2020.

Libra’s “size and scale will pose questions for society and government more generally about what is acceptable and desirable in this space,” Woolard said, according to Reuters.

“Historically, this may have been a sector that has lived by the mantra of ‘move fast and break things,’ but the issues raised here require deep thought and detail,” he said. Woolard’s thrust being that Facebook’s infamous policy of moving quick to gain market dominance and sabotaging competitors is not an acceptable strategy when deploying global financial services.

The 28 corporate and non-governmental backers of Libra maintain that they are attempting to expand financial access to the global unbanked population, or, to essentially make it as easy to move money as it is to share a photograph on Facebook’s ecosystem.

The regulatory agency Woolard represents is said to take take digital assets into consideration singularly, rather than as representing an entire asset class, in order to determine the individual market effects on competition and consumers.

“It is crucial that we also think about the reality – the technical details, the technology; and the legal position,” he said, referring to Libra.

From the viewpoint of consumers, the agency will consider such things as the harm done by increasing transactional complexity and the potential for exploitation, if applicable. The agency’s other mandate – to protect competition – will determine the effects on market integrity as well as how Libra may impact competitive entry. The FCA also reserves the right to introduce fees to dissuade monopolistic behavior.

Announced on June 18, Libra has already seen a mounting regulatory effort against it, with financial and governmental authorities the world over calling for close scrutiny of the project.

Facebook image via Shutterstock

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