10/11/19

Libra Foundation Crack Update

On Friday afternoon, four additional cracks appeared in the Libra Foundation when Visa, MasterCard, eBay, and Stripe joined the earlier refugee from Libra, PayPal, and announced they were going to take a pass on joining and funding the Libra Foundation, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

What was odd was the revelation that Libra had been taking a lot of incoming from governments — United States, Germany, France — including a letter from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hi).

They had written directly to Visa, Mastercard, and Stripe discouraging their participation as well as warning of a “high level of scrutiny from regulators not only on Libra-related payment activities, but on all payment activities.”

Continue reading

10/7/19

Cracks in the Libra Foundation

Some time ago, we spoke about Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.

We spoke of it here:

Facebook and Libra

Recently, we learned that PayPal has abandoned ship as one of the 28 founding Libra Association members. Sort of caught folks by surprise.

They didn’t give a reason, but mumbled along the lines of this:

Uhhh, ummm, we have decided “to forgo further participation in the Libra Association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations.”

The Financial Times said that PayPal was concerned about the regulatory lightning Libra seems to be attracting.

Continue reading

07/16/19

Libra v The Senate

Today, the US Senate grilled Facebook’s Chief Libracan about all things Libra.

David Marcus is actually the head of Facebook’s crypto wallet subsidiary, Calibra. He was offered up as a human sacrifice to the US Senate Banking Committee to lay out the Libra project.

Reports are he was able to walk out on his power.

David Marcus, head of Facebook's Calibra (digital wallet service), testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on "Examining Facebook's Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2019.

Marcus had the polished demeanor of a patient who had a regular, weekly colonoscopy or a barbed wire enema just to keep his game sharp. At times, I detected a bit of the third-grade-geometry-teacher-helping-one-of-the-slow-kids tone in his voice. Guy was masterful at giving non-answer answers.

In general, the hearings started out as a hate fest with various Senators laying out the case against Facebook as a lazy protector of privacy whose motto is “Move Fast, Break Things.”

The fact that Facebook had just agreed to a $5,000,000,000 fine to the Federal Trade Commission (3-2 vote with the Republicans on the FTC controlling the outcome) for privacy mischief probably contributed to the generally angry-high-school-wrestling-coach reception of guys like Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.

“Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience.”

Continue reading

07/12/19

The Trump Bump — Cryotocurrency

President Trump had some choice words to share in regard to cryptocurrency and the Libra (Facebook) cryptocurrency in particular.

They were not flattering.

The President is “…not a fan…” and suggests that cryptocurrency will “…facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

His full quote was:

“I am not a fan of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated crypto-assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

He had a lot more to say, but that is the money line.

The comments were magnified by those of US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said that he felt that cryptocurrency “…raises serious concerns.” [Hey, if you were casting a movie on the Fed Reserve — sexy action thriller kind of movie with Charlize Theron as a central banker — is this guy not the perfect Fed Reserve Chairman?]

Powell’s comments, though less widely reported, contained substantial beef as he noted that the existing regulatory scheme does not “fit digital currencies” which he indicated would have to be addressed before Libra could go forward. He specifically called out Libra thusly,

“Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability.”

The President pointedly noted that if Facebook wanted to go forward with Libra they should get a bank charter. Your Big Red Car said the same thing some time ago.

Continue reading

06/23/19

Facebank and Libra

Big Red Car returned from babysitting duties for My Perfect Grand Daughter. We are learning how to boogie board, but don’t tell her mother.

While gone, Facebook announced the impending creation of Libra, an asset-backed cryptocurrency that will transform life as we know it.

I have taken to calling the entire entire enterprise — Facebook, the Libra Association, and Libra — Facebank.

Image result for libra cryptocurrency images

Bit of cynicism on a Sunday — we can’t trust Facebook with our data, so let’s trust them with our money? OK, had to get that out of the way, let’s march on, shall we?

Continue reading