Washington Post

Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency is part of a disturbing financial trend

FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

In June, Facebook announced plans to effectively create its own alternative currency called Libra - and, eventually, a financial system to go with it. The proposal was so galling in its hubris that it sparked bipartisan outrage across our polarized political spectrum. Libra was, of course, cloaked in corporatespeak that implies lower costs and more freedom for consumers and businesses through ”innovation” or ”inclusion” or ”synergies.” But given Facebook’s abysmal track record, lawmakers are justified in their skepticism.

What should really concern them, though, is that Libra is only the latest example of a larger, more troubling trend: the gradual blurring of the line between finance and commerce that’s taken place over the past few decades. This trend has carried significant implications for customer privacy, competition, financial risk and concentrated economic and political power. Stopping Libra would be a positive sign that policymakers are starting to take these issues seriously, but more still needs to be done to unwind the excessive intertwining of finance and industry...

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