Friday 2 August 2019 1:31 pm

Facebook's libra cryptocurrency ‘poses global currency threat’

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency libra poses a threat to global financial policy, according to former Bank of Japan executive Hiromi Yamaoka.

Worldwide, Facebook has over 2.4bn active monthly users and, should a significant proportion of these start using Facebook’s new currency, Yamaoka warned that this could significantly devalue trade and monetary policies globally.

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He told Reuters: “If Libra becomes more widely used than the sovereign currency of a particular country, the effect of monetary policy may be severely undermined.”

He claimed the target market for the currency will be countries where the market trust in their current domestic currency is low.

For countries with strong financial markets, however, the introduction of a new, popular currency puts pressure on policymakers to make decisions that will not inadvertently devalue their own currencies.

Read more: US senators grill top exec over Facebook’s new crypto-currency

“It won’t be a big problem for countries that enjoy strong market trust in their currencies. Still, the emergence of libra would pressure policymakers to discipline themselves.”

The universal nature of Facebook’s libra cryptocurrency also poses a threat as it means it avoids regulations that otherwise differ between countries’ domestic currencies.

Yamaoka said: “Any inconsistency in rules among countries creates a loophole that renders the rules ineffective.”

Conspicuous loopholes can create security risks for consumers, he said, increasing the opportunity for fraud and money laundering.

Yamaoka’s comments follow a string of warnings from various figures in recent days surrounding the security and reliability of digital crypto-currencies.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority warned investors of the erratic nature of fellow cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s value.

The FCA’s strategy chief, Christopher Woolard, said: “Consumers should be cautious when investing in such crypto-assets and should ensure they understand and can bear the risks involved with assets that have no intrinsic value.”

Read more: UK regulator warns tech companies over cryptocurrency projects

The UK Treasury Committee echoed these sentiments, claiming the “wild west” market of Bitcoin could be banned unless stringent regulation is introduced.

The FCA has also slammed bitcoin and other cryptos as having “no intrinsic value”.