back to article France says 'non merci' to Facebook-backed Libra cryptocurrency

On Thursday Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency has received a Gallic dismissal courtesy of France's finance minister. Speaking at the OECD Global Blockchain Policy Forum 2019, a virtual currency conference, Bruno Le Maire said Libra poses certain difficulties in terms of financial transactions and opined that thought needs to be …

  1. SMITCH79

    Vive la france!!!

    I love the French. They don't fuck about.

    Thought they might have squeezed Google a bit harder though.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Vive la france!!!

      Don't they fuck about? Has their finance minister actually said he's going to pass laws to block Libra? Or just made a broad statement that it shouldn't happen?

      They've got their own data protection laws, even if based on a European model. So how aggressive you make your data watchdog is a national decision. But lots of currency and finaincial stuff will be down to the ECB and not him.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vive la france!!!

      How much do you want to bet that its only rejected because essentially France is trying to make the Euro itself E-currency ;-)

      ( Ms. Christine Lagarde ... future ECB president wants a ban on cash money and go full digital )

      at the end its a trust thing .. who do you trust the most to handle your work_sweat/hour?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Vive la france!!!

        I trust me and er....

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Vive la france!!!

      Do not get too excited, the French politicians are as bad liars as politicians in <insert_your_country>.

      What he said might mean that they will switch to Libra as a state currency next month, for all anybody knows.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. JohnFen Silver badge

    Good on her!

    Good on Valerie Khan for keeping the real issue squarely in focus and working to prevent Facebook from redirecting the conversation to something that isn't the primary problem.

    Facebook is really good at doing that. Just look at how hard they're working to redirect the privacy conversation away from Facebook's spying ways and onto "privacy from anyone who isn't Facebook".

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

    Yes, well, let me think about that for a minute.

    Hmm, right : fuck that.

    We have a national currency that is perfectly functional and I don't need anybody but my bank to transfer money to anyone I choose. I do not need to subscribe to a criminal organization's excuse for laundering money, or another criminal organization's excuse for spying on my private life. And, as far as investments are concerned, I invest in my house, thank you very much.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

      Public digital currency or farcebook's spy as you pay Libra don't need much thinking about at all, solutions to non existent problems.

    2. NATTtrash
      Boffin

      Re: "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

      @Pascal: I agree with you, but you're forgetting one thing: from an (I assume) European perspective, it's normal to assume everybody has a bank account. Kids get one before they are allowed to vote, drive a car, or see saucy pictures.

      Not so in the US. I don't know the figures (maybe some of the US people here can help?), but my experience is that very few US people have a bank account as we know it in EU. Yes, they might look very modern paying with plastic all the time, but don't forget these are indeed "real" credit cards, with a bill at the end of the month which has to be paid. Most of the time our EU ones are the debit ones, called a credit card, but almost exclusively connected solidly to some kind of real bank/ debit account.

      In my experience, it wouldn't be the first time when somebody in the US wants to transfer money, they have to go to a bank and "wire" the money to your IBAN. I suppose that's also why companies like Western Union still exist, while in Europe they are dodgy and insignificant, because here we can transfer money under one minute flat ourselves.

      And that is why such a FarceBook currency would work in the US. Because they would fill the gap left by the fact that many in the US don't have our "bank account" access/ abilities/ services*.

      * I focussed on the US here, but there are many other territories of course where people don't have access to EU style banking facilities, which would fit in the FB strategy; Africa, India...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

        NATTtrash,

        I don't think the US system is that different to the European one. All the septics I know have normal bank accounts and use them in ways you'd expect. And I don't think most people have received their wages in cash for decades - as over this side of the Atlantic.

        In some other ways European banking is much more advanced. Than either the US or UK. And I think some of the Eastern Europeans even more so, because they rebuilt everything from scratch after the end of Communism, so started with teh most up-to-date tech.

        The Americans still use cheques, though I suspect they're dying out over there because of internet banking. But I think the US was slower to adopt new tech because of having so many small regional banks. So standards take longer to agree and the banks have less money for tech upgrades.

        When I lived in Belgium in 2001 they'd already got rid of cheques. Something that only died out in Britain once almost everyone had internet banking. But even now I still deal with a cheque at work in the UK every few years.

        But in Blighty and the US credit cards are different. As you say in Western Europe it's just the same as your debit card, except you don't have to pay it off until the end of the month. In Britain and the US our credit cards aren't linked to our bank accounts, and you can even get year long interest free credit card deals, so long as you pay off 5% of the total balance per month, and some people use them as a way of spreading payments over time.

        I got into the European habit in Belgium, so mine is paid off at the end of every month, and I just use it as another layer of security between my bank account and the rest of the world.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

        "my experience is that very few US people have a bank account as we know it in EU."

        My experience in the US is that the vast majority of people have real bank accounts. Most got them as children. I admit, however, that I don't know what you mean by "as we know in the EU", but I have a hard time believing that bank accounts differ much between the two.

        Last I heard, the US has an abnormally high number of "unbanked" and "underbanked" people as compared to other modern nations, but they are a minority nonetheless.

        "I suppose that's also why companies like Western Union still exist, while in Europe they are dodgy and insignificant"

        In the US, I wouldn't call them "dodgy", but Western Union is not a significant player and tends to be used by the minority of people who are underbanked.

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: "thought needs to be given to creating a public digital currency"

      We have a national currency that is perfectly functional

      Lucky you.

      We have one that is routinely debased by governments.

  4. Jerome

    Please get the french flag right. Blue on the left left / Red on the right.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      At least the colors are arranged correctly from the model's perspective.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Why? The Union Flag is consistantly flown upside down in France.

      Even at war memorials:

      https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5857242,7.0063205,3a,39.7y,331.93h,108.83t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sbYnatau28KytltWXxT6S2g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

      1. mantavani

        It’s constantly flown upside down here quite often too.

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Only by the type who like to metaphorically wrap themselves in it.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        That is partly our own fault, for designing a flag that's not obvious which way round it goes. Couldn't we have put a "this-way-up" sign on it somewhere?

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          You mean like the two thicker white bars of the Saltire that go on top?

          1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

            The operative word is "obvious".

  5. Oengus Silver badge

    Really!!! Facebook privacy...

    "To date, while Facebook and [its Libra-focused subsidiary] Calibra have made broad public statements about privacy, they have failed to specifically address the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information,"

    After Facesbook's revelations earlier this week about their location tracking that they have previously said they weren't doing can we ever believe any statement about them respecting privacy?

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: Really!!! Facebook privacy...

      in a nutshell - NO

      to embellish said reaction for a more wholesome and fully expanded thought process

      HELL NO

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monetary Sovereignty?

    So, of all the reasons for suggesting having a private company in charge of monetary policy is potentially not a good idea (not to mention the various practical considerations of crypto currencies in general), the French have chosen the threat to sovereignty as their primary concern? Explain to me what happened to the Franc again...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Monetary Sovereignty?

      The Euro is not controlled by a commercial entity where France has no voice...

      "Sovereignty" here has a slightly different meaning than in "Brexit".

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Monetary Sovereignty?

        And yet, 8 years ago the French desperately wanted the ECB to QE, but Germany wouldn't let them. And now they apparently voted against re-starting it this week - and lost.

        So how is that monetary sovereignty?

        Not to mention the day when the ECB (broke its founding treaty) and turned off the Greek banking system, and did it in a vote the Greek member wasn't allowed to vote in - as only full members of some committees get a vote every time and the rest are rotating.

        Not that I disagree with his main point that Libra is an awful idea. But France doesn't have monetary sovereignty. And has joined a hideously badly designed system of common sovereignty.

        You can criticise Brexiteers for many things, and many misconceptions. But the Euro is the worst economic decision that's been taken since Communism. And if the EU wasn't inextricably linked to that massive fuckup, they'd never have got a majority and the EU would have a lot more credibility. And incidentally countries like Italy wouldn't be in an impossible situation where leaving the Euro is impossible, but staying in it is slowly strangling their economy, and with no tools to fix that, normal parties are getting slowly destroyed and replaced by extremists. A similar process that is also starting to happen to varying degrees in France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Finland.

        1. Colin Bull 1
          Unhappy

          Re: Monetary Sovereignty?

          And by having a fluctuating currency that is shared by all eurozone countries Germany is effectively pimping of the countries with a weaker economy. Germany dictate european policy because of this. All power to the 4th reich

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Monetary Sovereignty?

            It's monetary policy that matters really, much more than exchange rates. In the early 2000s interest rates were set low to help Germany, France and Italy all in a bit of a slow growth period (in Germany partly I'm sure due to reunification). And those low interest rates were catastrophic for Ireland and Spain, which had good growth, and effectively interest rates lower than inflation. Which caused huge property booms - which bust horribly in 2008.

            Then there was a bit of combat over how to deal with this. At first the hawks won, and the ECB even put up interest rates (disastrously) in about 2010. Way too late they finally persuaded the Germans and the other hawks to do QE, and saved the Eurozone. At the cost of several extra years of economic stagnation and a massive spike in unemployment - and a near collapse in confidence in the Euro as an idea.

            If the EU were properly democratically accountable, this would have resulted in heads rolling and a change in policy. But it's not, it's a supra-national organisation with some democracy bolted on and can't work like that. So voters have punished national governments - who mostly don't have the power to change monetary policy, and even where governments have been elected explicitly to try to solve the Eurozone's structural problems (like Macron) they can't get any agreement on what to do.

            So with national governments powerless to change things, and voters powerless to effect policy at a European level - no wonder so many of the mainstream parties are getting slaughtered - and people are turning to voices from outside the political mainstream to try and get something changed.

            Something's going to have to give eventually. Either the politicians will get their shit together and actually fix the Euro (rather than relying on the ECB permanently printing money) - or there'll be another crisis and it will collapse faster than they can dance to patch it up. Or worse, someone will get elected (maybe in Italy) to pull out of the Euro - and it'll all turn to shit - and incredibly acrimoniously too. Making Brexit look like a picnic.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "we can not authorize the development of Libra on European soil."

    Nobody asked you, you stupid government person.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: "we can not authorize the development of Libra on European soil."

      Actually, I believe that Facebook asked them (as well as a bunch of other nations).

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: "we can not authorize the development of Libra on European soil."

      "Nobody asked you, you stupid government person."

      Good luck trying to use it for anything other than crime if it's banned in the country.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: "we can not authorize the development of Libra on European soil."

      Doesn't need to be asked. The finance minister has the agency and authority to say "non", whether asked or not.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "we can not authorize the development of Libra on European soil."

      Monsieur Anon,

      Actually the people of France did ask him. You see they elected a government with the purpose of sticking its nose into these sort of decisions. And while governments are far from perfect, and we don't really like paying our taxes, when it comes to sorting out large corporations we often need them.

      Hence, for example, British banks have now paid out over £35 billion in PPI compensation - because they indulged in practises that went from dodgy to outright fraud.

  8. Steve Evans

    Hmmm....

    Whilst I distrust farcebook about as much an anyone, I wouldn't be surprised if the French do this, then launch their own national cryptocurrency... They do like a bit of protectionism with their squashy cheese.

    They could call the Le iFranc.

  9. doublelayer Silver badge

    Right reasons, please

    There is a problem with this statement. This cryptocurrency is not really a money laundering or funding terrorism risk, at least not more than any other cryptocurrency or thing with value that can be traded. It is a profound risk because of user privacy and corporate control reasons. Why is this distinction important? Shouldn't we accept that the thing is being held up and not complain? No, we shouldn't and I won't, because, if Facebook can keep all complaints about crimes that could be committed by someone else, they can come up with pretty reasonable arguments why those objections don't apply. Then, the system will be seen by governments and assorted nontechnical people as having been analyzed thoroughly by all sorts of places when in fact the important issues have been ignored. We need to keep the focus on user privacy and control and not let someone else divert the discussion.

  10. Douglas Wardle

    D'accord

    The ever-extending reach of the big tech companies is now far greater than the justification used to break-up AT&T/Bell monopoly. The roots of that decision began in 1956 and continued until 1984. If one compares the dimensions of the communications industry a few decades ago to present day, the "too-big to fail" mantra used to bail-out banks could easily be applied to companies who basically own the internet and web. If FB proceeds with its cryptocurrency plans, I'd support that business activity split-off so that it resembles something more similar to Ethereum.

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Social astrology...

    In FBs case they have missed a trick here... instead of calling it Libra, they should have very aptly named it Cancer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Social astrology...

      I'm going to channel Jasper Carrot here and tell them to Pisces off.

  12. Cuddles Silver badge

    Money laundering

    "And he expressed concern that the digital credits could facilitate money laundering and terrorism."

    On the one hand, he's not wrong. But on the other hand, surely it won't facilitate them any more than bitcoin and the like already do?

  13. Julz Bronze badge

    Opening Skirmish

    in the battle of central banks v corporate script. As ever, it's about with whom and where power ultimately lies. Central banks don't like the implications of the end game where significant wealth flows in way over which they have little control and where their tinkering and blackmailing is undermined. Mega companies would really like to have some of the benefits that national central banks enjoy, especially those whose currencies are used in international trade. Imagine not loaning national currencies but running up script debt over which you have complete control? Not sure that either party gives a flying fuck about their population/customers.

  14. Dick Kennedy

    Do you want to have another go at that last sentence - you know, so it makes sense?

  15. Mike 137 Bronze badge

    Interesting question

    "backed by assets – fiat currency paid to purchase Libra that gets stored in a reserve for theoretical later redemption"

    And I wonder who gets to keep all that lovely interest.

  16. oldfartuk

    Its simple

    As Reichminister Walther Funk pointed out in his 1940 paper wher he detaIed the EEc and he single currency, uts is essential to have only one currency to force complete european political union and the Federal Superstate. Consequently, no other currency can be allowed to undermine it. They will make Europe a cashless society, thus transforming the Euro into the digital currency of the Superstate. Nothing must stop the 4th Reich.

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