Libra A Sizzle … For Scammers?

And now, the Libra lure.

Amid the controversy of a cryptocurrency proposed by Facebook, news comes this week that, per an investigation by The Washington Post, roughly a dozen accounts and pages on the social media giant’s platform promise early access to Libra.

For a discount, of course. Trouble is, Libra is, as you likely know, still a twinkling in an eye. Regulators are casting gimlet eyes at the idea of a crypto brought to market (OK, in part because there is a consortium behind the project, of dozens of firms) through Facebook’s efforts. It’s interesting to note, as the Post and others such as The Verge did, that the pages look official and have links to ostensibly buy the tokens.

As Cornell University Professor Eswar Prasad remarked to the Post, “there is a deep irony here in Facebook being used as the platform that could undermine trust in the currency Facebook is trying to build trust in.”

The comment underscores the blurring of lines that make at least some observers uneasy, where Facebook seems to have some lapses in data protection and privacy that have in the past led to breaches and misuse of data, and where Cambridge Analytica and Russian election meddling have entered the mainstream lexicon.

News of the fake pages peddling Libra comes the same week that Facebook shouldered a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and may be on the hook for $100 million in fines from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

They are financial drops in the bucket, to be sure, for a firm that has billions in free cash flow a quarter and has tens of billions of dollars on the books … but then again, trust is a form of currency, too.

Also interestingly: The company’s advertising policy dictates that Facebook does not let cryptocurrency ads run that aren’t pre-approved. The logic follows then, that the fake pages, which have since been taken down, according to reports, somehow slipped by the approvals process or in fact might have been approved.

Not the best of advertisements for Libra, and a fizzle for the week.


Logistics: Next-day air and ground deliveries power UPS earnings, as those shipments were up 30 percent year over year in the latest quarter. Investments in automated operations have brought down the cost of such shipping, which also boosts results.

ePayments: Get a boost as Mastercard and SumUp partner to increase the number of electronic payment acceptance locations, by the millions, across 27 European countries. Micro, small and medium-sized companies will be able to accept electronic payments using SumUp card readers or digital devices including smartphones.

Card spending: Citibank, JPMorgan and most recently Discover have all posted results that see strong mid-single-digit spending increases on cards in the United States, where the consumer’s resilience has withstood trade wars and worries over economic slowdowns.


New account fraud: A report from GIACT Systems reveals that as much as $3.4 billion was lost due to new account fraud (NEC) last year. Such fraud hit 3.2 million customers last year, according to the report

PayPal: Slowing growth — temporary, in the eyes of management — dents 2019 guidance for PayPal and investors slam the stock in after-market trading. The company cited delays in new product integrations – and investors weighted that more highly than 70 percent growth in Venmo.

Antitrust: Big Tech headed to the Hill last week and got grilled; this time around big banks appeared before a House subcommittee. BB&T and SunTrust execs got an earful from lawmakers about their planned merger, which some deem “too big to manage.” Might speed bumps be in the offing before the deal is done?