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Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is a ‘useful wake-up call’ for regulators, says European Central Bank policymaker

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On July 7, Benoit Coeure, executive board member of the European Central Bank, said that regulators must act quickly to prepare for the entry of US tech giants such as Facebook into the financial system, Bloomberg reported. He said it was "out of the question to allow them to develop in a regulatory void for their financial service activities, because it’s just too dangerous", and that “We have to move more quickly than we’ve been able to do up until now". Despite his apprehensions, he seemed optimistic about the advent of digital currencies, saying that their development is exposing deficiencies in existing regulation and the banking system, and that they are a "rather useful wake-up call for regulators and public authorities, as they encourage us to raise a number of questions and might make us improve the way we do things”. This is in stark contrast to the US, where lawmakers have called on Facebook to temporarily halt its development of Libra, saying it had the potential to usurp the dollar and destabilise the global financial system (see below). Is Europe set to become crypto-friendly? Coeure's comments come just days after IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde — who has has spoken positively about blockchain and cryptocurrency — was reportedly nominated to head the European Central Bank. In a blog post last year, she had written that cryptocurrencies "could have a significant impact on how we save, invest and pay our bills" and that "policymakers should keep an open mind and work toward ­­an even-handed regulatory framework…

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