House panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project

House panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project
© Aaron Schwartz

The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee announced Monday that the panel will hold a hearing next month on Facebook’s plan to develop a cryptocurrency-based payments platform.

The Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Facebook’s Project Libra on July 17, Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Pelosi calls on CDC to extend eviction moratorium unilaterally MORE (D-Calif.) announced Monday afternoon. The Senate Banking Committee will hold its own hearing on the social media giant’s crypto project the previous day.

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David Marcus, the co-creator and leader of Project Libra, is expected to testify at the hearings, according to sources. A Facebook spokesman declined to confirm who would attend the hearing, but said in an email "We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward."

Facebook triggered bipartisan alarm last week when it announced a plan to develop its own payments system based on a cryptocurrency supported by more than two dozen major corporations, including Uber, Mastercard, Spotify and Coinbase.

The cryptocurrency project would be operated by the non-profit Libra Association and separate from the social media platform, according to Facebook. But Facebook’s recent string of privacy breaches, federal penalties and immense power has spurred concern across the political spectrum.

Waters called on Facebook to suspend Project Libra until lawmakers and regulators had a chance to weigh in and grill company executives. Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryHouse Democrats scrambling to set up vote on eviction ban extension On The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Biden calls on Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration MORE (R-N.C.), the Financial Services panel’s top Republican, echoed those concerns in a request for a hearing on Project Libra’s “potential unprecedented impact on the global financial system.”

The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee also expressed qualms about Project Libra, and have previously grilled Facebook on its privacy practices. 

The panel’s chairman, Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-Idaho) scheduled a hearing on the project last week for July 16. And ranking Democrat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (D-Ohio) blasted Facebook for running “a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight.”

Updated at 4:25 p.m.