Facebook’s Libra Project has questions of liquidity to answer in order to prove its doubters wrong, says Nick Ogden, creator of Worldpay and ClearBank.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress on Wednesday to address questions surrounding the social media giant’s controversial cryptocurrency project.
Ogden voiced concerns over the illiquidity that Libra could create in banking systems when consumers purchase Libra coins.
“The impact of having, what I would call, ‘a liquidity lock’, suddenly appearing in the world’s financial systems isn’t particularly healthy for anybody, including Mr Zuckerberg,” Ogden tells Finextra.
“Liquidity can be sucked out of the markets, so it’s not there for loans and mortgages because it’s sitting in Facebook/Libra’s bank account.
“Libra isn’t setting out to be a full-service bank delivering those services, yet normal banks rely on that liquidity in order to operate.”
Odgen revealed to Finextra last month that he is leading a cross-border payments initiative with new business RTGS.global, designed to address such “liquidity locks” in international transactions.
He believes questions need to be answered around where the money used to purchase Libra coins will sit, whether it will be acquiring interest, and how straightforward it will be to turn it back into fiat currency.
Zuckerberg assured Congress that Facebook won’t support Libra’s launch until it has the approval of all US regulators, though was unable to commit when asked to working on a legal framework with Congress to provide guidance to regulators.
Ogden shares Congress’ concerns, telling Finextra, “How this is being regulated is a big question for me.
“And assuming an equivalent of a European e-money licence is going to be used, what is Libra going to do with all the surplus liquidity?”
Zuckerberg endured a grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with scrutiny extending to Facebook’s employment diversity and Russia and Iran’s attempts to use the site to influence the 2020 election.
Democratic Representative Nydia Velázquez stated that Facebook has a “credibility issue” which poses a problem to its attempt to enter financial services.
“Mr Zuckerberg, we do not want to ‘break’ the international monetary system,” Velázquez said, referencing the Facebook founder’s motto, “Move fast and break things.”