Zuckerberg to tell lawmakers he supports delay of Libra cryptocurrency project

Zuckerberg to tell lawmakers he supports delay of Libra cryptocurrency project
© Greg Nash

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' with Facebook data mining Hillicon Valley: Trump officials propose retaliatory tariffs over French digital tax | FBI classifies FaceApp as threat | Twitter revamps policies to comply with privacy laws | Zuckerberg defends political ads policy Zuckerberg says Trump did not 'lobby' him during dinner MORE is set to tell House lawmakers that he would support a delay of the company's Libra cryptocurrency project until regulators are satisfied.

Zuckerberg will make the remarks as part of his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, which is set to hold a hearing on the digital currency on Wednesday.

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Bipartisan members of the committee have raised sharp concerns over Facebook's proposed 2020 launch date for the Libra, which is facing intensive financial regulatory scrutiny around the world.

"Some have suggested that we intend to circumvent regulators and regulations," Zuckerberg will say, according to his prepared testimony. "We want to be clear: Facebook will not be a part of launching the Libra payments system anywhere in the world unless all US regulators approve it." 

"And we support Libra delaying its launch until it has fully addressed US regulatory concerns," he said.

When Facebook first announced the Libra project, it said it was planning to launch the coin by next year. But executives have recently been tempering that date, and David Marcus — the head of Calibra, the Facebook subsidiary helping to launch the cryptocurrency — told reporters last week to think of 2020 as an ambitious goal.

"We co-wrote a white paper to begin a dialogue with experts and the regulators and policymakers who oversee the stability and security of our financial systems," Zuckerberg will say. "It was never intended to be the final word on the project. The goal was to signal the direction we want to go and to start a conversation about how to get there. That conversation is ongoing." 

Zuckerberg is certain to face a grilling from lawmakers at the hearing, who peppered Marcus with questions and criticisms for hours at a hearing over the summer. 

The tech executive — who has launched a charm offensive of public appearances in recent weeks — will defend the Libra project, which was his idea alongside Marcus.

"The idea behind Libra is that sending money should be as easy and secure as sending a text message," Zuckerberg will say.

"I believe this is something that needs to get built, but I understand we’re not the ideal messenger right now," he will add, referring to Facebook. "We’ve faced a lot of issues over the past few years, and I’m sure people wish it was anyone but Facebook putting this idea forward." 

"But there’s a reason we care about this," he will say. "Facebook is about putting power in people’s hands." 

There are 21 initial members of the Libra Association, the body tasked with overseeing the controversial cryptocurrency. 

Updated at 3:39 p.m.