The volatility caused by cryptocurrency mining and speculation worries many people, but the players in the technology sector are also worried about large companies such as Facebook, which manages currencies
LONDON: Libra, a Facebook virtual unit already heavily attacked by US President Donald Trump and global regulators, is also facing skepticism from the cryptocurrency community.
One theme – besides the Brexit – has dominated the discussions between influential players in London financial technology or the Finnish financial technology industry gathered at their annual meeting: the future of virtual currencies.
"May I ask you to raise your hand if you do not wish to use Libra?" asked the moderator during an event at the last 'FinTech Week' from London.
In the room, filled with a hundred experts and media who closely follow the sector, about two-thirds of the participants raised their hands to express their distrust of the emerging currency.
Helen Disney, founder and director of Unblocked Events, which promotes blockchain technology that powers many crypto-currencies, has recognized growing doubts about who exactly would monitor and regulate Libra's operations.
– Power to the people –
People are "concerned about the functioning of governance …," Disney told AFP.
"The cryptocurrency community is very libertarian in its thinking," she said. "It is empowering the people, democratizing finance, moving away from the big banks and companies that control the economy."
Last week's rally took place a month after Facebook announced to the world its plans for virtual currency.
Libra, which is widely seen as a challenger to the world's largest Bitcoin player, is expected to be launched in the first half of 2020.
While Bitcoin is decentralized, Libra will be co-managed by 100 corporate partners, including Facebook's new financial services division, Calibra.
The companies behind Libra – which will have a basket of real world currencies – include giants Visa, MasterCard and PayPal payments, as well as Lyft and Uber taxis.
To access Libra on smartphones, users will use a virtual wallet that will also be named Calibra.
Although Facebook boasts a huge worldwide customer base that should facilitate the absorption of Libra, the company has also been affected by privacy issues that could make users hesitate.
"I can not wait for a cryptocurrency with Uber's ethics, resistance to Paypal censorship and Visa centralization, all tied to Facebook's proven confidentiality," he said. Sarah Jamie Lewis, head of the non-profit Open Intimacy research organization.
Libra has meanwhile raised eyebrows among the world's financial regulators, including the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve.
But Disney thinks that Libra will finally force regulators to come up with clear regulatory guidelines, as the crypto-currency community demands.
"We have long been waiting for a clearer signal (regarding) the regulation of crypto-currencies and digital assets," she said.
But James Bennett, head of the Bitassist cryptocurrency research firm, says Libra should not be seen in the same way as Bitcoin.
"In the long run, people might realize that Libra is not a cryptocurrency," Bennett told the FinTech Week event.
"A real cryptocurrency must withstand the attacks of all parties, from sovereign states to large corporations," he said, adding that "cryptocurrency is a type of currency used to transfer value to the Internet. which can not be stopped, confiscated or destroyed by any single entity ".
– & # 39; Based on thin air & # 39; –
Meanwhile, Trump launched a vicious attack on virtual currencies, criticizing them for their alleged obscure nature and arguing that Libra had no status or reliability, unlike the dollar.
"I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, which are not money, and whose value is very volatile and based on tunes," commented Trump in a tweet. Thursday.