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France says G7 consensus to 'act quickly' on Facebook Libra currency

By AFP
media Facebook's move into cryptocurrency comes with the leading social network moving toward CEO Mark Zuckerberg's vision of shifting away from being a "digital town square" to small-group messaging and payments AFP/File

The G7 group of the world's most developed economies are worried about Facebook's planned Libra cryptocurrency and have a shared consensus about the need to act quickly, a French official said Wednesday.

Facebook last month unveiled its plans for Libra in an announcement greeted with concern by governments and critics of the social network behemoth around the world.

The issue was at the forefront of the minds of ministers and central bankers from the G7 group of most developed economies as they kicked off a two-day meeting in Chantilly outside Paris on Wednesday.

"On Libra, we had a very constructive and detailed discussion with a very large and shared consensus on the need for action," said the official, who asked not to be named.

"Concerns (were) expressed by all the participants about the current situation and the need to act quickly."

- 'Conditions not in place' -

The finance ministers of France and Germany had earlier expressed serious reservations about Facebook's plans because of Libra's possible impact on global financial stability.

"The G7 finance ministers and central bankers who are here have serious concerns," said German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

"They want to be sure that all existing regulations are adhered to, and if they should be changed in the future, so that we can guarantee the stability of the international financial system," he added.

"We are talking about currency stability, security, data protection and democratic control," he added.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who has warned about Libra repeatedly since the launch announcement, said "the conditions are not yet in place today for Libra to be introduced."

He said he hoped the G7 would consider the necessity of a "framework or a regulation" and also "what would be the conditions that would make such an instrument feasible."

"Today, we cannot accept that an exchange instrument comes into being when it does not respect any of the precautionary rules that all sovereign currencies are required to abide by."

Their comments echoed warnings issued on Monday by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was also present at the meeting.

Mnuchin said Facebook must meet "a very high standard" before it moves ahead with Libra, adding that US regulators have already expressed concerns to the company.

He said that these kinds of virtual currencies have in the past been associated with money laundering and illicit activities.

"Whether they're banks or non-banks, they're under the same regulatory environment," Mnuchin told reporters at the White House.

Libra is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player bitcoin. Expected to launch in the first half of 2020, Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets to avoid the wild swings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

 
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