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Facebook Taps Ex-Coinbase Exec To Lobby For Libra

Facebook hires lobbyist for Libra

The former policy executive of the crypto exchange Coinbase is heading a lobbying firm hired by Facebook to contend with U.S. regulatory issues, Coindesk reported on Tuesday (Aug. 27).

The Washington D.C.-based FS Vector has been retained by Facebook to work on “issues related to blockchain policy.”

FS Vector’s partner John Collins — head of policy at Coinbase from September 2014 to January 2016 — will serve as Facebook’s lobbyist. 

The hiring comes at a time that Facebook’s launch of Libra continues to get pushback from lawmakers. The cryptocurrency has a potential release date of 2020, and Facebook said it would be issued and regulated by the Geneva, Switzerland-based “Libra Association.”

U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, who also heads the House Financial Services Committee, called for a “moratorium” after meeting with Switzerland’s regulators, where Facebook’s Libra Association is headquartered.

Waters said that the Swiss helped her understand the “status, complexity, and magnitude of Facebook’s plans.” In July, Facebook was at a congressional hearing where legislators called the company out over privacy concerns, saying it wasn’t ready to safeguard the financial system, much less individual data. 

Also, many of Libra’s early backers are troubled by the intense regulatory scrutiny Libra is facing. This is not the first time that Facebook has hired lobbyists and third-party firms to regulate relations with lawmakers.

The Libra Association, a coalition of 28 members put together by Facebook to help bring the cryptocurrency to fruition, includes Visa, Mastercard, Uber, the subsidiary Calibra and Spotify, among others.

The members all made a non-binding promise to invest at least $10 million. Three anonymous members said they wanted to back out of the venture. 

The Libra blockchain-backed cryptocurrency has a lofty aim of connecting the 1.7 billion people around the world without access to a bank account to the world of digital payments at low or no cost.

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