Swiss watchdog ‘in contact’ with Facebook cryptocurrency backers

The Libra coin plan, launched this week by Facebook and some two dozen partners, is being overseen by a Geneva-based nonprofit called the Libra Association. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2019
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Swiss watchdog ‘in contact’ with Facebook cryptocurrency backers

  • Switzerland is trying to establish itself as a global cryptocurrencies hub
  • The Libra coin plan, launched this week by Facebook, is being overseen by a Geneva-based nonprofit called the Libra Association

GENEVA: Switzerland’s market watchdog confirmed Thursday that it is contact with the “initiators” of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, as questions mount over how the money will be regulated.
Switzerland has tried to establish itself as a global cryptocurrencies hub, but the entry into the market of a behemoth like Facebook will increase scrutiny over the rules Switzerland has in place.
“We can confirm that we are in contact with the initiators of the project,” a spokesman for the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), Tobias Lux, told AFP in an email.
The Libra coin plan, launched this week by Facebook and some two dozen partners, is being overseen by a Geneva-based nonprofit called the Libra Association.
Lux declined to comment on the details of FINMA’s exchanges with the Libra Association but said the watchdog’s role was to determine “whether the planned services require approval under Swiss supervisory law and, if so, which.”
The Libra Association has said it registered in Switzerland because the wealthy Alpine nation has “a history of global neutrality and openness to blockchain technology.”
But given Facebook’s international reach, global regulators are unlikely to leave supervision of Libra entirely to the Swiss.
The US Senate committee on banking, housing and urban affairs announced on Wednesday that it would hold hearings next month on “Facebook’s proposed digital currency and data privacy concerns.”
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said the Facebook project required scrutiny while French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned Libra cannot be allowed to replace sovereign currencies.
Switzerland, a long-standing global banking hub, has made a series of moves to attract nascent cryptocurrency businesses, including tax breaks and logistical support.
The northern town of Zug has been dubbed “Crypto Valley” because of the influx of virtual currency firms.


SoftBank to launch Vision Fund 2 mega-venture

Updated 44 min 13 sec ago
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SoftBank to launch Vision Fund 2 mega-venture

  • Vision Fund 2 will aim to pull in existing investors such as the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia and Mubadala in the UAE
  • Vision Fund 2 is expected to at least equal the original fund’s $97 billion fund, and could reach $150 billion

LONDON: The global mega-investor SoftBank Vision Fund is preparing to launch another giant investment venture.
Vision Fund 2 will aim to pull in existing investors such as the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia and Mubadala in the UAE, the biggest investors in the original fund along with SoftBank, the Japanese group run by Masayoshi Son.
Sources told Arab News that Vision Fund 2 is expected to at least equal the original fund’s $97 billion fund, and could reach $150 billion — which would make it the largest private investment fund in history.
A team from SoftBank Investment Advisers led by its chief executive Rajeev Misra and Masayoshi Son have been in preliminary discussions with potential investors for several months.
They have been talking to sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as big global corporates, some of which were also investors in the first fund.

*** Read our full interview with CEO Rajeev Misra here: SoftBank Vision Fund stands shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia — CEO Rajeev Misra ***
Investment is also expected from global banks, insurance companies and pension funds, and SoftBank is expected to put up about $40 billion.
The first phase of the launch is due to end “in the next few months,” with a final close around 12 months later.
The original fund plans to return profits to existing investors over the next few months, including big partners such as PIF, Mubadala and SoftBank. If they see healthy returns they may be more likely to invest heavily in the new fund.
The interests of Saudi Arabia and the Vision Fund align as the Kingdom diversifies away from reliance on oil, Misra told Arab News. “Our commitment is to support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia, high-tech jobs not blue collar, over the next few years,” he said.