Facebook’s Libra currency under fire

Libra has raised eyebrows among the world’s financial regulators, including the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 July 2019
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Facebook’s Libra currency under fire

  • Libra will be co-managed by 100 partner firms, including Facebook’s newly-minted financial services division Calibra
  • Libra, which is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player Bitcoin, is expected to launch in the first half of 2020

LONDON: Facebook’s planned virtual unit Libra, already under heavy attack from US President Donald Trump and global regulators, faces skepticism among the wider cryptocurrency community as well.
One theme — besides Brexit — dominated discussion among the movers and shakers from London’s financial technology or FinTech industry as gathered for their annual get-together: the future of virtual currencies.
“Can I just ask you to raise your hand if you would not be willing to use Libra?” asked the moderator at an event at London’s recent ‘FinTech Week’.
In the room, filled with about 100 experts and media who closely track the sector, about two-thirds of participants raised their hand to express distrust at the upstart currency.
Helen Disney, founder and boss of Unblocked Events, which promotes the blockchain technology that powers many cryptocurrencies, acknowledged growing doubts over who exactly would oversee and regulate Libra’s operation.
People are “concerned about how the governance... would work,” Disney told AFP.
“The cryptocurrency community is very libertarian in thinking,” its “about giving power to the people, democratization of finance, keeping away from big banks and companies who control (the) economy,” she said
Last week’s gathering came one month after Facebook announced to the world its plans for the virtual currency.
Libra, which is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player Bitcoin, is expected to launch in the first half of 2020.
Whereas Bitcoin is decentralized, Libra will be co-managed by 100 partner firms, including Facebook’s newly-minted financial services division Calibra.
The companies behind Libra — which will be backed with a basket of real-world currencies — include payment giants Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, as well as taxi-hailing services Lyft and Uber.
To access Libra on smartphones, users will go through a virtual wallet that will also be named Calibra.
While Facebook boasts an enormous customer base dotted across the globe that should facilitate Libra’s uptake, it firm also been plagued by privacy concerns that could make users hesitate.
“Can’t wait for a cryptocurrency with the ethics of Uber, the censorship resistance of Paypal, and the centralization of Visa, all tied together under the proven privacy of Facebook,” said Sarah Jamie Lewis, head of non-profit research organization Open Privacy.
Libra has meanwhile raised eyebrows among the world’s financial regulators, including the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve.
But Disney believes that Libra will finally force regulators to present clear regulation guidelines, as demanded by the cryptocurrency community itself.
“We have been waiting for a long time for a clearer signal (regarding) the regulation of cryptocurrencies and digital assets,” she said.
But James Bennett, head of cryptocurrency research firm Bitassist, argues that Libra should not be seen in the same light as Bitcoin.
“In the long run, people may realize that Libra is not a cryptocurrency,” Bennett said at the FinTech Week event.
“A true cryptocurrency should be resistant to attacks by all parties, from sovereign states to global corporations,” he said, adding that “cryptocurrency is a type of money used to transfer value over the Internet that cannot be stopped, confiscated or destroyed by any single entity.”
Trump has meanwhile unleashed a vicious attack on virtual currencies, slamming them for their alleged shadowy nature and arguing that Libra had no standing nor dependability — unlike the dollar.
“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump tweeted Thursday.


Indonesia looks for investment opportunities in Yemen

Updated 20 September 2019

Indonesia looks for investment opportunities in Yemen

  • Indonesia’s ambassador to Yemen expressed Indonesia’s interest in various fields
  • There are currently more than 2,500 students from Indonesia studying in Hadramout

DUBAI: Indonesia’s ambassador to Yemen discussed investment opportunities in the country with Yemeni officials in Hadhramout on Thursday, Saba News reported.

Hadhramout Local Authority and Leaders of Industrial and Commercial Chamber of Hadramout met with Ambassador Mustafa Tawfiq to discuss ways to strengthen trade exchange between the two countries.

The ambassador expressed Indonesia’s interest in various fields including scholarship programs and training for small business.

“In light of the current situation in Hadhramaut and the security and stability achieved, commercial and industrial relations between Hadhramaut and Indonesia are witnessing a remarkable and significant development in this aspect,” Tawfiq said, calling for increased visits between businessmen in Hadramaut with their Indonesian counterparts to expand the economic partnership between the two sides.

Meanwhile, Assistant Deputy Governor of Hadhramout for the Valley and Desert Districts Affairs, Abdulhadi Al-Tamimi welcomed Indonesia’s interest in investment opportunities, praising the historical relations between Yemen and Indonesia.

There are currently more than 2,500 students from Indonesia studying in Hadhramout, Al-Tamimi said.

The Indonesian envoy welcomed local businessmen to visit Indonesia next month where Jakarta will hold the 43rd Trade Expo where more than 1,100 companies will be participating.

However, the Yemeni official raised the issues of obtaining visas to Indonesia after the embassy’s move to Amman, Jordan from Sanaa after the Houthi militia took over the Yemeni capital.