Analysts at investment bank Canaccord Genuity think Facebook’s new cryptocurrency might benefit the world – if regulators allow it.
In a note to clients Wednesday, analyst Michael Graham wrote that Facebook’s Libra Network, unveiled on Tuesday, would seemingly benefit the blockchain space, unbanked individuals and (to some “modest” amount) Facebook’s bottom line.
However, he highlighted that the project must first receive a seal of approval, or at least no resistance, from national governments worldwide.
“Regulatory headwinds could be hurricane force – on one level, governments should appreciate Libra for the boost it might bring to global commerce. On another level, Libra is by far the most credible crypto threat yet to government-sponsored currencies.”
Indeed, lawmakers and regulators are already pushing back against the project. In the U.S., Representatives Maxine Waters and Patrick McHenry, respectively the chair and ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, have called for a hearing with Facebook executives to discuss libra, with Waters going as far as to ask Facebook to cease development – at least temporarily.
Elsewhere, Markus Ferber, a German member of the European Parliament, said Facebook should not be “allowed to operate in a regulatory nirvana,” while French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the libra cannot become a sovereign currency.
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, also weighed in, saying he held an open mind but that the libra should be examined closely.
Regulatory hurdles aside, Graham appeared to be bullish about both the libra and the effect it may have worldwide.
“We see Libra as socially conscientious leverage of the company’s global clout to bring financial inclusion to billions of Earth’s citizens for the first time,” he wrote.
As for the libra’s implications for the blockchain space, he noted that Facebook’s goal is to only hold 1/100 of the votes for the Libra Association, the governing council that will make decisions about the protocol. In his view, this is “the right level of centralization.”
More importantly, if the libra succeeds, it might validate the blockchain payments model. He went so far as to suggest it may become the most valuable cryptocurrency, writing:
“However, if Libra fulfills its ambitions, it could potentially displace bitcoin and other existing digital assets that are primarily used as a payments vehicle or store of value.”
The note also touched on secondary benefits that Facebook’s launch partners may see. Merchants that utilize the libra may see lower fees and an increased number of customers, he wrote, specifically mentioning Lyft, Uber, eBay, PayPal and Spotify.
On the other hand, companies like PayPal may also face issues if the libra model succeeds.
Graham returned to the potential number of users in his closing summary, writing that “billions of potential Libra adopters can be targeted in minutes,” if unbanked individuals suddenly gain access to financial services. He said:
“The scale of reach here is unprecedented.”
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