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 WatersOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms Democrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' 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 McHenryBottom line Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank 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 CrapoLobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Stimulus empowers Treasury to rescue airlines with billion in direct assistance White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (R-Idaho) scheduled a hearing on the project last week for July 16. And ranking Democrat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG 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.