It has been three months since David Marcus, the titular head of Facebook’s Libra project, took the heat at Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. As we reported at the time:
David Marcus, Facebook’s lead for the Libra cryptocurrency and the sole representative designated to take the heat from an angry group of senators, more than likely never knew that he was cruising for a bruising.
Congressional hearings are never a fun gauntlet to endure. Participants have often referred to these events as “listen-ings”, since the politicians present tend to preach from their mighty pulpits and try to gain televised news bites for their constituents back home. The Libra hearings followed this playbook to the letter. Marcus obviously took one for the team at Facebook, being lambasted for hours in both houses of government over a two-day period. In the weeks that followed, Europeans had their go at him, too, but from afar.
Having recovered from these brutal attacks, it appears that Marcus has now taken the offensive, in what looks to be a carefully crafted public relations campaign to win the hearts and minds of those very constituents that actually vote for the crowd responsible for his “listen-ings”. In a recent interview with CNBC, David was given an opportunity to express his thoughts on the events of the recent months and how his project might enhance current financial systems.
As reported by The Block, Marcus begins with questioning why lawmakers were so close-minded so early on in the project:
It’s an idea. It’s a white paper. Nothing is operating yet. It’s kind of sad in a way to see all the issues that we currently have with the current [financial] system. The fact that…some people are not even open to the idea of exploring the idea of improving those things [financial institution] for their very constituents is kind of odd to me because we’re not dogmatic about the approach.
Bitcoin prices had taken a leap over June, when word of the project was finally released by Facebook, but shortly took a dive, as soon as the liberal shellacking of Libra in the town square commenced. Even President Trump went on a Twitter tirade, blasting Bitcoin and all things crypto, while his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, declared that cryptos were a “national security issue”. Nearly everyone, including officials from the UK and the EU, began to decry cryptos as the bastion of organized crime, where crooks were given safe haven for illicit activities like “money laundering, cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, and human trafficking”.
Marcus has heard the criticisms and claims to understand them. His retort:
We need to demonstrate that we…can be trustworthy. No one needs to trust Facebook to use Libra and to on-board into this platform. We need a better system for people to pay…I think it’s our duty to continue to innovate on this. There has been a lot of fintech innovation at the edges but the core of the network that moves money around…hasn’t changed in fifty years.
In a separate action, Bertrand Perez, chief operating officer and interim managing director of the Libra Association, has also taken to the CNBC publicity trail. He was in marketing mode, claiming several banking and financial institutions were interested in joining the Libra association. Recently, seven prominent Libra members said “adios” to the project – Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe, eBay, Booking Holdings and online marketplace MercadoLibre.
Perez has targeted 100 members by the launch date, although he concedes that there may be delays. Per The Block:
We are aware that we need to answer a lot of questions coming from the regulators and to make them comfortable with the platform and that requires time. Launching a few quarters later or before makes no real change.
More recent news from Libra below: