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EC reportedly launches preliminary probe into Libra

Benson Toti

The European Union’s antitrust watchdog has already launched a probe into Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, Bloomberg has reported.

According to a document seen by the newswire, the European Commission is “currently investigating potential anti-competitive behavior” related to the Libra Association, the Geneva-based consortium that governs the project. The EC is reportedly concerned that the proposed crypto payment system may create “possible competition restrictions” on the information that will be exchanged and the use of consumer data.

The regulators are also looking at the possible integration of Libra-backed applications into Facebook services such as Instagram and WhatsApp. The governance structure and membership of Libra Association is also being examined.

Bloomberg described the document as a questionnaire typically used by the EC during an early-stage EU inquiry to gather information.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency project has already seen pushback from regulators and lawmakers in the US. Last month, the company’s blockchain chief David Marcus attended two congressional hearings, answering questions about the project and addressing concerns raised by lawmakers. Marcus assured lawmakers that Facebook was “fully committed to working with regulators” in the US and around the world. He said that he social media giant “will not offer” Libra “until we have fully addressed regulator’s concerns and received the proper approvals”. This sentiment was echoed by Facebook’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook even warned investors that the project might never see the light of day.

“Libra has drawn significant scrutiny from governments and regulators in multiple jurisdictions and we expect that scrutiny to continue,” Facebook said last month in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. “In addition, market acceptance of such currency is subject to significant uncertainty. As such, there can be no assurance that Libra or our associated products and services will be made available in a timely manner, or at all.”

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