US Congressmen seek clarity about Facebook's crypto plans from head of financial crime unit

The director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Kenneth Blanco, has discussed Facebook’s new cryptocurrency project Libra with a bipartisan group of US Congressmen this week.  Since Facebook’s subsidiary, Calibra, will offer digital wallets and custody services for Libra, it falls under FinCEN’s jurisdiction. Calibra registered with the regulator as a money services business in February. However, Democratic Congressman Cleaver highlighted the social media giant had failed in the past to identify and impede “nefarious actors.”

According to Cleaver, Facebook has already caused significant damage just by offering messaging and advertising services.

“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,” Congressman Cleaver said.  

Calibra may well need to obtain more licences to be able to operate in different states.

Blanco also briefed the congressmen about FinCEN's use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in its anti-money-laundering efforts. The congressmen, all members of the House Financial Services Committee, further discussed what the regulator is doing to foster the use of new technologies among other financial institutions.