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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 WatersLawmakers warned police of possible attack ahead of siege Maxine Waters in impeachment speech says Trump 'capable of starting a civil war' Brown puts housing, eviction protections at top of Banking panel agenda 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 McHenryGOP at crossroads after Capitol siege Leaving on a high note: Outgoing NRCC head looks to build on 2020 Trump Georgia call divides House GOP 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 CrapoSweeping COVID-19, spending deal hits speed bumps McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach MORE (R-Idaho) scheduled a hearing on the project last week for July 16. And ranking Democrat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownStreamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions On The Money: Sanders will be gatekeeper for key Biden proposals | Senate majority gives Biden path to student loan forgiveness | Confirmation hearing for Yellen expected next Tuesday 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.