Facebook is facing immense pressure from US regulators over its plans to launch a digital currency, Libra, in association with more than 20 partners including Visa, MasterCard and Uber.
As well as co-creating the Libra currency, Facebook plans, on its own, to offer its own digital wallet, called Calibra. Like a physical wallet with cash, Calibra will store a users’ Libra, and make it possible to engage in transactions with other wallets.
Libra has the potential, lawmakers say, to dramatically disrupt the global banking industry – a digital currency that can cross borders, without the wild price fluctuations and illegal connotations of Bitcoin and its ilk.
Which is why David Marcus, the Facebook executive of its currency project, was brought in front of two US congressional committees last week to answer concerns.
“I want to be clear,” Mr Marcus said in his opening statement to US lawmakers. “Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulatory concerns and received appropriate approvals.”
But what exactly did that mean? A pledge not to launch anywhere without US approval, or just a pledge not to launch in the US?
Almost a week later, it’s difficult to get a clear answer from Facebook about whether it feels it needs US lawmakers on board in order for Libra to go ahead.