FRENCH FRANCE has announced plans to block the development of Facebook's forthcoming cryptocurrency, Libra.
Announcing the move, French France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said: "I want to be absolutely clear: in these conditions, we cannot authorise the development of Libra on European soil," citing the potential of cryptocurrencies and particularly Libra, to threaten the "monetary sovereignty" of governments.
A report in the Guardian points to various concerns raised by French France since the cryptocurrency was announced in June.
Amongst the concerns is the idea that people could choose to switch to cryptocurrencies during a time of national crisis, making it harder for governments to stabilise their own economies and compounding the crisis instead of fixing it. Fans of Amazon Prime Video drama Mr Robot will find that idea hauntingly familiar.
Although Libra is a cryptocurrency in most important ways, it also has the slightly unusual boast of being managed by an independent not-for-profit in Switzerland.
In other words, it's not a true cryptocurrency because it's not decentralised; there's a very central contractor in the middle of it all, dealing with the finances of up to two billion people.
Facebook has already confirmed that it's working with existing payment providers including PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, as well as specific tech services like Lyft and Uber, who are likely to offer a pay-by-Libra option.
All of which brings us back full circle. Who is going to regulate Facebook's banking offerings? Will it be the regulator in the customer's country, or the US, or somewhere completely random? Or is this so new that a whole new way of regulating needs to be invented?
Either way, the decision by French France will have a knock-on effect on the rest of Europe, as it now follows that they will veto any attempt to roll out Libra in the European Union.
Of course, France isn't alone in criticising Facebook over plans for Libra, but this is the first decisive step from a nation warning Zuckerberg that his latest attempts to disrupt society are not welcome in the land of croissants, damn fine wine and Eric Cantona. μ
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