Spooked by Libra, EU pledges to regulate digital currencies
09 Oct 2019

The European Union’s finance commissioner pledged on Tuesday to propose new rules to regulate virtual currencies, in a reaction to Facebook’s (FB.O) plans to introduce Libra, which the EU considers a risk to financial stability.

France and Germany have said that Libra, whose size would dwarf cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, could limit their monetary sovereignty.

“Europe needs a common approach on crypto-assets such as Libra,” Valdis Dombrovskis told EU lawmakers in a confirmation hearing. “I intend to propose new legislation on this.”

The EU has no specific regulations on cryptocurrencies, which, until Libra was announced in June, had been considered a marginal issue by most decision-makers because only a fraction of bitcoins or other digital coins are converted into euros.

Dombrovskis has resisted regulating digital currencies in the five years he has served so far. He made it clear his change of heart stemmed from Facebook’s plans for Libra, a digital currency that “could have systemic effects on financial stability,” he told lawmakers.

The EU is now also pushing the G20 for global action on “stablecoins,” an EU document circulated last week said.

Facebook’s planned Libra is the best-known of the stablecoins – cryptocurrencies backed by assets such as conventional money deposits, short-term government securities or gold.

Libra’s scale would pose risks, Dombrovskis said, because Facebook’s millions of users in Europe would be able to pay with the new digital currency.

An EU Commission official said there was no timetable yet for proposing the new rules.

By Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, 8 October 2019

Read more at Reuters

Photo: EU2016 SK [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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