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: Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing finance plan | Dems jump into Trump turf war over student loans | House passes bill targeting anonymous shell companies House passes bill taking aim at anonymous shell companies Avoiding the snake in the grass: Let's not allow impeachment to divide us 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 passes bill taking aim at anonymous shell companies Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans House committee pressing Zuckerberg to testify on digital currency Libra 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 CrapoGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate On The Money: Trump strikes trade deal with Japan on farm goods | GOP senator to meet Trump amid spending stalemate | House passes cannabis banking bill | Judge issues one-day pause on subpoena for Trump's tax returns MORE (R-Idaho) scheduled a hearing on the project last week for July 16. And ranking Democrat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillary Clinton has said she'd consider 2020 race if she thought she could win: report Democrats jump into Trump turf war over student loans Critics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles 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.