Kenneth Blanco, the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) did a bipartisan briefing which was led by Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver, Trey Hollingsworth, Bill Foster, and French Hill. The briefing had an objective to talk about FinCEN’s use of AI and ML technology to detect unlawful financial activity. Additionally, they wanted to present the methodology of the bureau to promote the use of these upcoming tech in the established financial institutions.
Of course, Facebook’s Libra was at the epicenter of the discussion. Congressman Cleaver, who is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy, set the tone for the discussion by saying:
“With the evolution of virtual currencies and new marketplaces, nefarious actors are continuously adapting to find new ways to engage in illegal financial activity. Now that we’re seeing a giant corporation like Facebook—which has already shown an inability to identify and impede these kinds of actors at an acceptable level—creating its own virtual currency called Libra, it cannot be understated the importance of Congress and financial transmitters to be proactive in utilizing the newest and most powerful technologies to ensure the financial system is not being used improperly.”
It is important to remember that Rep. Cleaver has been a zealous voice for companies and federal regulators to do more in removing the use of virtual currencies in illegal activities. Last year he sent a letter to the Bitcoin Foundation and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, calling for these firms to do more to prevent extremist groups from using cryptocurrency to fund campaigns of hate and violence. He doubled down on his position when he realized through the Muller report that Russians had been using cryptos to interfere in the 2016 Presidential elections.
Congressman Cleaver added:
“We’ve seen the significant damage that foreign adversaries and bad actors have wrought on our democracy through Facebook’s platform, and that was simply through messaging and advertising. Before we allow such a giant corporation to begin processing millions to billions of financial transactions, we have to study these issues and ensure we have the tools and guardrails in place to deter terrorists, extremists, and/or enemies from utilizing such a platform to do harm to our nation.”
Financial Services Committee has a scheduled hearing with Facebook on July 17th to discuss Libra. We can be sure that such regulatory hearings will not only happen in the US but in several other countries as the respective country’s government comes to terms with the new technology. Although, in the long run, it is good news for Bitcoin and other cryptos.