France to Block Facebook’s Libra in Europe

The company approached the Swiss regulator for a payment system license.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday attacked Facebook’s Libra saying that the country would block the development of the digital currency in Europe.

The ministry is concerned about Libra’s impact on the financial stability and believes that it will threaten the existing “monetary sovereignty,” per a Reuters report.

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“All these concerns about Libra are serious. I, therefore, want to say with plenty of clarity: in these conditions, we cannot authorize the development of Libra on European soil,” Le Maire said in an OCED conference on virtual currencies.

“The monetary sovereignty of countries is at stake [from a] possible privatization of money… by a sole actor with more than 2 billion users on the planet.”

Facing the French wall

Announced in June, Facebook is aiming to launch its digital currency in 2020. If launched, the social media company will introduce the cryptocurrency to its 2.7 billion users and across multiple platforms owned by it – Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Per its whitepaper, the California-headquartered company hopes to bring the “unbanked” population under the financial ecosystem with its digital currency.

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France has been hostile towards Facebook’s crypto initiative since its official announcement. Le Maire earlier raised concerns for the same saying that Libra should be stopped from becoming “a sovereign currency.”

“It can’t and it must not happen,” he added.

Meanwhile, Facebook is seeking a payment system license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) for its digital currency.

The Swiss regulator, however, clarified that to issue the license, it will strictly scrutinize Libra’s design to prevent any illegal activities, including money laundering and terror financing.

The head of FINMA also elaborated that the Swiss watchdog agency is only capable of checking for anti-money laundering measures of Libra and “a project of such a global dimension can be addressed only via international coordination.”

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