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Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes Hostile Senate Hearing

Ahead of the launch of its new global cryptocurrency, Facebook (FBGet Report) sent its crypto chief David Marcus to the Senate Tuesday to face questioning from the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The mixed reaction Marcus received among senators was mostly divided along party lines, with some of the toughest questioning coming from Democratic Senators still skeptical of the company in the wake of the Russian election hacking scandal that Democrats blame for their candidate’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

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Senator Mark Warren (D-VA) stated that “Facebook has a history of buying or copying competing technologies,” before demanding that Marcus assure the panel that competing digital wallets wouldn’t be hindered on WhatsApp and Messenger, two of Facebook’s most popular products.

Marcus went back and forth with Warner before assuring Warner that users would be able to send and receive non-Libra digital currencies on Facebook’s networks. But Marcus would not commit to embedding those competing currencies on its platforms.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) baldly stated that “Facebook is dangerous,” saying that the company has continued to misuse customer data while continually referring to each instance as a “learning experience.”

Brown concluded his remarks by saying that “it takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance to look at that record” and believe that the next move for the company should be to create a digital currency.

Republican Senators were more forgiving for the most part, with Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) applauding the company’s efforts to provide financial services for the under-banked.

“I want to make clear that we are only at the beginning of this journey,” Marcus said. “We expect the review of Libra to be one of the most extensive ever. Facebook will not offer the Libra currency until we have addressed the concerns and receive appropriate approvals.”

Marcus also stated the Calibra network will have the “highest standards” when it comes to privacy and that the social and financial data will be completely separated.

Users will have to provide an authentic government ID so sign up for Calibra and will not be able to register by simply using their existing Facebook profiles.

Marcus stressed Calibra’s independence from Facebook, stating that the company has taken the lead in developing the technology but that it would give up the lead once the digital currency is launched.

“We will not control Libra and will be one of over 100 participants that will govern over the currency,” Marcus said. ” We will have to gain people’s trust if we want people to use our network over the hundreds of competing companies.”

Facebook shares were up 0.18% to $204.27 on Tuesday early afternoon and are up more than 55% this year.

Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.

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Source: Facebook Defends Libra Cryptocurrency in Sometimes-Hostile Senate Hearing

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Bitcoin Prices Sink 10% As Cryptocurrencies Suffer Another Sudden Drop – Bloomberg

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Hong Kong: Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoins, dropped sharply for the second time in less than 24 hours, sinking toward a nine-month low amid concern that broader adoption of digital assets will take longer than some anticipated. Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, tumbled as much as 9.8% and was trading at $6,422 as of 1:25 p.m. in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index, a gauge of the largest digital assets, traded near its lowest level since November 2017 as rival coins Ripple, Ether and Litecoin also fell.

Cryptocurrency bulls who counted on an expanding user base to drive up prices have been dealt a string of recent disappointments. Business Insider reported on Wednesday that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was pulling back on near-term plans to set up a crypto trading desk, while trading platform ShapeShift AG said on Tuesday that it will begin asking users for personal information – a policy that may drive away customers who value anonymity. The moves follow last month’s decision by US regulators to reject another round of Bitcoin exchange-traded fund proposals.

“A lot of retail investors’ hopes for a bigger institutional presence were really being driven by Goldman Sachs,” Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda Corp., said by phone from Singapore. “This is just a negative, negative sign as far as liquidity goes.”

While many banks and institutional investors are dipping their toes into the world of cryptocurrencies, concerns about everything from money-laundering to market manipulation and unclear regulations have prevented widespread adoption. The market value of virtual currencies tracked by CoinMarketCap.com has slumped about 75% from its January peak to $204 billion.

The next key level to watch for Bitcoin is $5,000, according to Innes, who said a drop below that threshold may cause losses to accelerate.

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