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.


UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

Data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019
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UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

  • Core earnings have increased by 3.6 percent annually, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent
  • The unemployment rate fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million

LONDON: British wages, excluding bonuses, rose at their fastest pace in more than a decade in the three months to May, official data showed, but there were some signs that the labor market might be weakening. Core earnings rose by an annual 3.6 percent, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. Including bonuses, pay growth also picked up to 3.4 percent from 3.2 percent, stronger than the 3.1 percent forecast in the poll. Britain’s labor market has been a silver lining for the economy since the Brexit vote in June 2016, something many economists attribute to employers preferring to hire workers that they can later lay off over making longer-term commitments to investment. The pick-up in pay has been noted by the Bank of England which says it might need to raise interest rates in response, assuming Britain can avoid a no-deal Brexit. Tuesday’s data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected, its joint-lowest since the three months to January 1975. The number of people out of work fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million. But the growth in employment slowed to 28,000, the weakest increase since the three months to August last year and vacancies fell to their lowest level in more than a year. Some recent surveys of companies have suggested employers are turning more cautious about hiring as Britain approaches its new Brexit deadline of Oct. 31. Both the contenders to be prime minister say they would leave the EU without a transition deal if necessary. A survey published last week showed that companies were more worried about Brexit than at any time since the decision to leave the European Union and they planned to reduce investment and hiring. “The labor market continues to be strong,” ONS statistician Matt Hughes said. “Regular pay is growing at its fastest rate for nearly 11 years in cash terms and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation.” The BoE said in May it expected wage growth of 3 percent at the end of this year.