By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ:) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg plans to acknowledge before Congress that Facebook is not the “ideal messenger” for its Libra cryptocurrency project, given ongoing criticism of the company.
In prepared testimony made available on Tuesday, Zuckerberg plans to tell lawmakers he supports delaying Libra’s launch, currently set for mid-2020, until U.S. regulatory concerns are fully addressed. And he will add that the Libra digital currency is intended to facilitate money transfers, not to compete with sovereign currencies or impact monetary policy.
Zuckerberg is set to testify on Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee, where he is expected to face critical questions from lawmakers wary of Facebook’s efforts to build a worldwide digital currency, and other forays into financial services.
In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg acknowledges those criticisms, but insists the Libra project has merit and could help millions of people by making it easy to transfer money. He also will note that other countries, like China, are already investing in similar projects.
“I believe this is something that needs to get built, but I understand we’re not the ideal messenger right now,” his testimony states. “I’m sure people wish it was anyone but Facebook putting this idea forward.”
Zuckerberg insists in his testimony that Facebook does not want to skirt regulators in establishing Libra, and says that the product would not launch anywhere in the world until all U.S. regulators are satisfied.
While acknowledging mistakes, Zuckerberg insists technology, and Facebook in particular, still has much to offer and he pushes back against strong criticism of the company.
“If healthy skepticism becomes all-out hostility, we’ll put a lot of progress at risk,” his testimony states. “I understand people have concerns about Libra. But I think it would be bad for our country and the world if companies were discouraged from taking on challenges like these.”
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