Welcome to the fourth issue of The Libra Informer.
This was a huge week for the Libra, and more broadly, the entire cryptocurrency space. With the Libra put before lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, it feels as if governments, central banks, and regulators around the entire world are finally waking up to the fact that cryptocurrencies are real. More importantly, they’re waking up to the fact that they are unprepared to deal with them.
While regulatory issues are being hashed out though, the Libra community keeps on advancing. HackLibra is finalizing details on its upcoming Libra hackathon, while LibraCamp is revealing more about what successful participants in its virtual accelerator will gain. We even learned that Monday Capital is partaking as program advisors. Given their record, this is encouraging news for any would-be Libra-based startup that wants to make it big.
For now, on with the show!
The Week’s most important news announcements.
The U.S. Senate Banking Committee and U.S. House Financial Services Committee held their much-awaited hearings on the Libra, with Calibra head David Marcus speaking and answering questions for lawmakers. His own written testimony sheds some light on Facebook’s thinking. There is a huge amount to unpack from those hearings. Broad strokes:
David Marcus was the right pick to defend the Libra. He held his cool under fire from lawmakers. That said, some critics have noted he danced around some of the questions.
Marcus more or less stated that the Libra will not be launched until/unless it is in compliance with regulators’ requirements. The earlier launch date of early-2020 is possibly delayed.
The Libra’s number one issue is that lawmakers (amongst others) simply do not trust Facebook, its handling of its user’s privacy, the potential for political bias when handling users’ money, and more.
Republicans are more pro-Libra than Democrats in Congress, if questions asked is any reflection.
U.S. Congressmen and women need to be educated more about the Libra.
Facebook/Calibra will have to do much more to clarify how the Libra will work, and will likely have to change various aspects of the currency in order to comply with regulatory demands.
Rep. Brad Sherman aka THE SHERMANATOR, the most crypto-hostile congressman in the entire U.S. legislature, is particularly prone to over-the-top theatrics.
Separately, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a press conference on the topic of cryptocurrencies. The Block has video and a transcript of the entire thing. Mnuchin dropped several bombshells, such as that Bitcoin is now officially a national security concern, that the U.S. government will pursue bad actors who use cryptocurrencies, and that any unregulated exchanges or firms must come into compliance or else.
Mnuchin’s comments were no doubt spurred by the announcement of the Libra. On the plus side, it showed tacit acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a reality. The U.S. government’s concern for the moment seems to be dealing with all bad actors and unregulated entities. Exchanges without adequate KYC/AML policies, beware.
News and Analysis
General Libra-related news, along with more in-depth analyses from a variety of sources.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board came out in favor of the Libra, presenting a case on how the currency could help lower-income families who lost access to credit and banking after the 2008 Financial Crisis.
CNBC took a closer look at one of the Libra’s three co-founders: Morgan Beller.
Paradoxically, though China likely won’t be able to use it, the country is leading in Google Trends searches for the Libra.
Stephen Palley, a lawyer focused on cryptocurrencies and blockchain issues, described on Twitter how the Libra Association could be pressured to implement full KYC/AML at every point—and how this could affect other cryptocurrencies.
Preston Byrne, a noted lawyer in the blockchain space and a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, put out a heavy critique of the Libra.
Editor’s note: Preston has an uncomfortably good track record of getting things right, so this is worth paying attention to.
Dmitriy Berenzon from Zenith Ventures conducted a deep dive on the Libra’s current proposed governance mode.
William Mougayar, author of The Business Blockchain, shared his thoughts and suggestions following the Libra hearings in the U.S. Congress.
David Morris comments in Fortune magazine on the global systemic risks that the Libra poses.
Announcements and news about businesses that are integrating the Libra and the Libra blockchain, or are otherwise making use of it.
Nothing this week! If you something, make sure to let me know (see below).
News about the Libra Association’s members. This includes new members, members’ work on the Libra, and notable organizations that have expressed interest in joining the Association.
Open Markets Institute, an organization critical of corporate concentration and monopoly power, published an open letter (co-signed by other watchdog organizations) asking Libra Association members to walk away from the project.
PayPal released its Xoom application, enabling faster and cheaper international transfers across Europe.
The latest regulatory pronouncements and events that affect the Libra.
Finance ministers and the heads of central banks from the G7 held a news conference and voiced their concerns about the Libra and its potential effects on the global economy, and “agreed that large tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook or Apple can be taxed in the countries in which they make money, even without being physically present there.” This, and other measures, are the beginning of a framework on how to deal with tech giants that move into finance.
One of the witnesses at the U.S. House Financial Services Committee’s Libra hearings was Gary Gensler, a former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. His written testimony argues that the Libra is a security and, if it goes forward in its current form, should be regulated as such.
Editor’s note: A former chairman of the U.S. commodities regulator, which has been relatively friendly towards Bitcoin, making it clear that he considers the Libra to be a security is a pretty stark indicator.
This is embarrassing: a spokesperson for the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, i.e. the country’s regulator on privacy issues, said that the organization has not been contacted by Facebook.
This tweet from Coindesk’s editor, Marc Hochstein, reminds us that even smaller community banks can gather and pull together some impressive lobbying power:
Some good regulatory news for the Libra: Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany’s central bank, called for vigilance instead of alarm when dealing with stablecoins such as the Libra.
Where can you find some useful resources? What has the community has been working on? You can find all that and more here.
TrustlessBank, a “crosschain liquidity protocol” and application that allows cryptocurrency atomic swaps, has put together a wallet that is capable of Libra lightning swaps with other cryptocurrencies.
If you’re familiar with Mandarin Chinese, Libra-China is looking for community members to help translate Libra documentation into Chinese.
For your Career
Looking for a job in the Libra ecosystem? We’ll list opportunities as they become available.
Calibra currently has 13 listings for data engineers, data scientists, economists, and more.
Facebook is looking to fill numerous positions as it seeks to ramp up its blockchain efforts, ranging from legal counsel to program managers.
Anything coming up related to the Libra that is happening near you? Check here to find out.
July 24, 6:30pm: Thailand Libra Developer’s meeting. See their Facebook group for more information.
Looking to join the Libra community? Are you a developer looking for guidance and collaborators to help build on the Libra ecosystem? Just want to talk about all things Libra? Search no more.
The Libra’s official forum. This the best place to ask questions, particularly since Calibra’s engineers check the more technical-oriented subforums every so often.
The unofficial Libra developers’ Discord group. Contains multiple channels for different languages.
Thoughts on this newsletter and its content are welcome.
Suggestions for the newsletter, both in terms of content and structure, can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can find “Dunny” on the Libra developers’ Discord group.