Waters meets with Swiss officials to discuss Facebook's crypto plans

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WASHINGTON—House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and a bipartisan congressional delegation met with Swiss government officials last week to discuss Facebook’s plans to launch and operate a digital currency, but the congresswoman remains skeptical of the project.

Facebook’s Libra network is scheduled to go live in 2020. The social network is joining the Libra Association through Calibra, which will build financial services for Libra, including a digital wallet that will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp and as a stand-alone app.

The fact that the Libra Association is based in Switzerland has raised concern among some lawmakers that Facebook might sidestep U.S. financial regulations.

A local Swiss news agency reported that a group of six lawmakers led by Waters met with the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner during their visit. In a statement, Waters said that the delegation also met with Swiss legislators, the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters and the Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

But those discussions weren’t enough to convince Waters that Facebook’s Libra network would be properly regulated.

“While I appreciate the time that the Swiss government officials took to meet with us, my concerns remain with allowing a large tech company to create a privately controlled, alternative global currency,” said Waters in a press release. “I look forward to continuing our Congressional delegation, examining these issues, money laundering, and other matters within the Committee’s jurisdiction.”

In June, Waters called on Facebook to halt its cryptocurrency plans until legislators had enough time to completely evaluate the project. She also expressed alarm that a company with data privacy issues would hold consumer financial data.

"Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data," she said in a statement in June after the company announced its cryptocurrency. "It has also exposed Americans to malicious and fake accounts from bad actors, including Russian intelligence and transnational traffickers.”

Waters said last week that reviewing Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency and digital wallet would remain a top priority for the Financial Services Committee after the conclusion of the August recess.

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