The French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has turned against Libra, saying that Facebook cryptocurrency is unacceptable and that it is an attack on political sovereignty.
The tough stance, not the first, was expressed through a post on Medium, where Le Maire wonders how it is possible to allow a private company to issue currency, which would be the case with Libra.
Le Maire also reminds us that France, at the time of the 1992 referendum in which it adhered to the Maastricht Treaty, experienced a very heated debate on monetary sovereignty. The French minister recalls the referendum to remind us that currency is not only a means of making transactions but is the heart of the sovereignty of states.
Facebook can boast a 9 zeros user base that is superior to any country. If it were to succeed, the Libra project would represent a real threat, not so much in the short term, because its adoption would be gradual. But in the long run, the use of Libra could make Facebook users almost dependant on it. The payment method could appear more practical and more convenient.
The greatness of Facebook is the reason for concern not only of the French minister but also of other institutions and countries that see Libra as a threat rather than an opportunity. The risk is to lose power and influence over citizens’ transactions, which would be transferred to a private company and which, as the minister pointed out, has repeatedly violated rules and user rights.
The recent problems involving Facebook do not really favour Libra. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has uncovered misuse of user data and has also led to suspicion that Facebook has in some way influenced the political elections. This has prompted many bodies and governments to criticise the company and to reiterate that it has not yet resolved the issues with its system, and has decided to devote itself to the new, still very steamy project.
Minister Le Maire himself is aware that a fast, electronic payment system that can cut costs is needed, but the only ones allowed to create something in that respect are the banks under the supervision of the European Central Bank.
Le Maire concludes by underlining a clear position: new technologies must be combined with the respect of the sovereignty of the states.
“Our position is therefore clear. We want to combine new financial technologies with respect for the sovereignty of States. Political sovereignty is not shared with private interests. Neither is monetary sovereignty”.
Le Maire’s concerns are not unfounded. It is enough to think that several giants who had joined the Libra Association, have abandoned the project, and this has led to the current members being reduced to only 20. The goal of Facebook was to bring together 100 participants, but it will be difficult since the companies that join the Libra Association must still pay as much as $10 million.