Facebook's new digital currency faces early uphill battle with regulators

Regulators and key lawmakers are vowing to scrutinize Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency offering to ensure adequate consumer protections, coming as the social media giant faces continued criticism over its data collection practices.

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Last week, the Menlo Park, California-based firm said it would roll out, likely in 2020, the new digital currency named Libra. And key officials immediately pounced.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday said the central bank would be “looking at it carefully.”

"Given the possible scale of it, I think that our expectations -- from a consumer protection standpoint, from a regulatory standpoint -- are going to be very, very high,” he told attendees after a discussion at the Council of Foreign Relations.

Powell previously confirmed that Facebook officials met with Fed policymakers before announcing Libra.

Alongside the central bank, the cryptocurrency offering is also facing early skepticism from key lawmakers.

Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, asked Facebook to halt development of Libra until it undergoes a review by the panel and regulators.

Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the top Republican on the committee, also requested a hearing on the offering.

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Meanwhile, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the chamber’s banking panel, said Libra would allow Facebook to unfairly amass large amounts of transaction data.

A spokesperson for the tech giant previously said the firm looks forward to responding to congressional inquiries.

Facebook remains under investigation for how it protects consumer privacy and could face heightened antitrust scrutiny under a new push by the federal government.

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President Trump on Wednesday said the U.S., like the European Union, should sue Facebook and other tech giants.