From internet message boards to Capitol Hill, in crypto's short life it's done the seemingly impossible.
Crypto has made a name for itself over the last few years, but nothing has brought the industry as much attention as Facebook's Libra announcement.
This week, Facebook's head of Calibra David Marcus underwent two days of hearings in front of House and Senate committees to try and sell Libra to legislators and address their concerns.
While they didn't go easy on him, not all members of Congress were against Libra, and a couple even mentioned their fondness of Bitcoin.
- One of the main concerns was less about Libra and more about Facebook. Sen. Sherrod Brown started the discussion by highlighting Facebook's irresponsible handling of user's personal data. "We would be crazy to give them a chance to experiment with people's bank accounts, and to use powerful tools they don't understand, like monetary policy, to jeopardize hardworking Americans' ability to provide for their families," he said.
- In response to Brown's concerns, Marcus assured the committee that they "will not have to trust Facebook" because it's only one of the potentially 100+ Libra Association members.
- When asked why Libra chose Switzerland over the U.S. for its headquarters, Marcus said it was "not to evade any responsibilities of oversight." Instead, the choice was made because of the access to international financial groups like the Bank for International Settlements.
- Marcus was asked by multiple committee members why Facebook was building a cryptocurrency. He responded that blockchain technology is inevitable, and if the U.S. doesn't take the lead, the innovation will happen in places that are outside "our national security apparatus."
- Congressman Patrick McHenry stole the show, echoing Marcus's concerns, "The reality is that whether Facebook is involved or not, change is here. Digital currencies exist. Blockchain technology is real. And Facebook's entry into this new world is just confirmation, albeit at scale."
- McHenry became a crypto hero when he named drop Bitcoin's founding developer. "The world that Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper, envisioned, and others are building, is an unstoppable force. We should not attempt to deter this innovation, and governments can not stop this innovation, and those that have already tried have failed."
Congress's concerns over Libra are justified considering the troubled tech giant's less than perfect history with user data and subsequently, politics. On the other hand, some of the committee's criticisms of crypto as a whole are not. As Secretary Mnuchin said in a press conference this week, cryptocurrencies have been used for "llicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, and human trafficking." But, cash has also been used for the same awful things who more than 200 years. Cryptocurrencies are more than what a few rogue actors have used them for, just ask Facebook.
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