LIVE: Zuckerberg testifies before US House on Libra

Coin Rivet live blog on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the US House of Representatives on Libra's proposed cryptocurrency (please refresh for updates)

Live blog

Coin Rivet will publish key takeaways from the hearing on October 24.

4.20 BST/11.20 EST: Congressman Brad Sherman: “Own the ZuckBuck”

Sherman takes Zuckerberg to task, claiming the name Libra and the Libra Association don’t hide the fact the ‘ZuckBuck’ will belong to him. He also says the underbanked won’t be the beneficiaries, but “tax evaders and drug dealers”.

He said: “You’ve never helped the unbanked.”

4.08pm BST/11:08am EST: Congressman Brad Sherman: “Donald Trump said crypto assets can facilitate unlawful behaviour including the drug trade. I’m not here to be anti-Facebook. I was anti-crypto when you were.

Crypto either doesn’t work or it does achieve the objective and displaces the US Dollar.

“The US Dollar is an excellent currency. It serves all the needs except it’s really bad for tax evaders and terrorists.

“That need can be met with a new currency.

“Your legal team are going to find a loophole from the 1940s so you can call yourself regulatory approved.

“You’re going to be making powerful burglary tools and let your business partners commit the burglary. Your white paper says your business partners will use your tool to have anonymous accounts. How do you ‘know your customer’ with anonymous accounts?”

Sherman adds: “I know you’ve got at least 100 lawyers who will tell you what you’re doing is legal. But given the harm that this could do, they could be very wrong. If this explodes the way it might, you will not be able to hide behind the idea that you didn’t create the Libra organisation.”

4.04pm BST/ 11.04am EST: ‘Actions speak much louder than words’

Congressman Gregory Meeks takes the Facebook CEO to task on his opening statement: “There are more than a billion people around the world who don’t have access to a bank account, but could through mobile phones if the right system existed.

“This includes 14 million people here in the US. Being shut out of the financial system has real consequences for people’s lives—and it’s often the most disadvantaged people who pay the highest price.”

Meeks asks if Facebook has invested any of its vast financial reserves in monetary depository institutions, which are set up to serve underbanked and unbanked people.

Zuckerberg: “I’m not sure of the answer to that question.”

Meeks later says: “ I would almost guess there’s zero dollars there.”

3.45pm BST/ 10.45am EST: “It’s a risky project” – Zuckerberg addresses Libra Association departures

Congresswoman Ann Wagner grills the Facebook pioneer about eBay, PayPal and Visa, among others, leaving the Libra Association.

“You’ve lost several members from the Libra associations. What do you make of these sudden departures?”

Zuckerberg: “This project is too big for any one company to do on its own. It’s a very complex project and it’s risky.”

He’s asked about why they left and replies “You’d need to ask them”. Wagner fires back: “Why do YOU think they’ve departed?”

“I think it’s a risky project and there’s been a lot of scrutiny,” he replies.

3.34pm BST/ 10:34am EST: McHenry: ‘Why Switzerland?’

McHenry asks why Libra will likely be based in Switzerland. Zuckerberg replies: “We’re trying to set up a global payment system. I think Switzerland has been forward-leaning on systems like this.”

McHenry: “And the US is not?”

Zuckerberg: “The Libra association is independent. My commitment running Facebook is that we will not launch anything until we have support from US regulators.”

3.32pm BST/ 10.32 EST: Patrick McHenry: “Have you changed your view on technology on China in the past ten years?”

Zuckerberg: “I was more optimistic on China ten years ago.”

3.29pm BST/10.29am EST:

Maxine Waters asks Zuckerberg about his U-turn on ads for cryptocurrency, putting to him that Facebook reversed the ban on the ads because of the economic opportunities.

Zuckerberg says local ads are a tiny percentage of revenue and “doesn’t justify the controversy”. He adds:

“From a business perspective, a very small percent of our businesses that is made up from political ads. So this isn’t about money.”

3.27pm BST/ 10.27am EST: Maxine Waters: “It is no secret that Facebook allowed Russia to divide our country. African Americans were targeted the most in places where Black Lives Matter groups were most active.

“Last year Facebook banned all cryptocurrency ads on their platform. Earlier this year they wrote back the ad ban and announced its own cryptocurrency.

“What changed? How did Facebook go from misleading last year to appropriate this year. You shifted your stance as you can use your size and user data to dominate cryptocurrency data.”

3:24pm BST/10:24am EST: Zuckerberg: “I don’t know if Libra is going to work.”

3.21pm BST/10.21am EST: Zuckerberg is up. To read his statement, click here.

3.16pm BST/10.16amEST: Patrick McHenry, the US Representative for North Carolina’s 10th congressional district: “You are one of the Titans of the digital age. There is a lot of weight from the innovation you’ve brought. It’s not just about Libra, it’s not just about some housing ads or Facebook at all. You’re hearing to answer for the digital age. You’re not American’s first innovator and you’re not the last.”

3.15pm BST/10.15amEST: Maxine Waters: ‘Facebook has various problems’
Waters, the US Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district, says Facebook should hold off on developing Libra until it has resolved issues involving privacy, election meddling, discrimination, fact-checking on political ads, and others.

3.10pm BST/10.10amEST: Mark Zuckerberg will warn US lawmakers that China will race ahead in crypto if Libra is shackled in a statement issued before today’s hearing.

The Facebook CEO also admitted legislators are right to be concerned about the social media giant’s planned cryptocurrency.

But he adds that America risks lagging behind Beijing as it debates the issue.

3.07pm BST/10.07amESTMaxine Waters begins hearing.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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