After months and months of speculation, Facebook has finally revealed the details of its would-be cryptocurrency challenger. However, what looks very revolutionary, is rather to be seen critical !
LibraMyth No 1: A blockchain allows Libra to function
Libra is enabled by what is called in Zuckerberg´s White paper as the “Libra Blockchain” which is described as a “Decentralised Programmable Database”. However, Libra blockchain is a lot but NOT a blockchain. Some of the very important characteristics are missing. Normal blockchains add blocks to the chain. Libra neither uses blocks nor uses a chain! According to their technical paper it will be a “single data structure that records the history of transactions and states over time”.
Facebook wants to define the expression blockchain, because they use technologies associated with blockchains such as Merkle Trees, hashes, and a consensus mechanisms and therefore it should be called blockchain. However, I am very against the fact that Facebook should get to decide what a blockchain is and what not. And furthermore: What Facebook tries to achieve definitely does not need a blockchain at all.
LibraMyth No 2: Libra is decentralised
In the Libra Whitepaper provided, it is stated that Libra is a decentralised system. However, unlike Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Libra won´t use the Proof of Work consensus mechanism that incentivises miners to keep the network going. Instead Facebook and the other 27 founding partners of the Libra association will run their own nodes that validate Libra transactions. The partners include Uber, PayPal and MasterCard. Each one has paid $10 million for the privilege. Facebook says that Libra will move to a more permissonless system in the future. But we don´ t provide any details on how and when that will happen.
LibraMyth No 3: Libra can reduce payment fees
Fees for transferring moneyare high due to several reasons like political ones or technical which are associated with the complicated process of moving money from one jurisdiction to another. Although it is true that fees for cross-border payments are way toohigh, we already have many companies which try to work on that issue like TransferWise or Revolut. However, as long as the majority of people use US-Dollar or Euro or other FIAT currencies they will have to exchange their money into Libra which will come at a cost, which means: There are transactions costs twice: in and out of Libra.
LibraMyth No 4: Libra protects users from data-based conflicts of interest
Pah! Facebook has created a subsidiary called Calibra through which all its Libra related financial services will be offered. This is the only part of the organisation seeking to be licensed, and the license it is going for is only a money transmission license. This is odd given the system’s ETF-like structure and grander deposit taking aspirations. Calibra promises only to use users’ personal financial data for cross selling purposes if users give them permission to do so. This possibly means Calibra will do everything in its power to incentivise that consent box is clicked.
LibraMyth No 5: Facebook wants to help the Unbanked people
Seriously??? Facebook wants you to think that Libra is about helping the unbanked and the reason for introducing the Libra cryptocurrency introduction shall increase financial inclusion and to bring in the in the 1.7 billion adults around the world who remain outside the banking system. But it´s not clear how the unbanked will be able to buy Libra when these people have no bank account particularly if Libra wants to keep regulators happy by doing proper checks on its users to avoid money laundering. Libra is also unlikely to help people in countries with rapidly depreciating currencies as those countries tend to put in capital controls to prevent a run on their banks. Facebook has never shown interest in the unbanked before, and I am not sure why it´s suddenly so interested.
LibraMyth: No 6 Libra legitimises Bitcoin
Libra calls itself a “low volatility cryptocurrency”, but just as the Libra blockchain isn´t a real blockchain, Libra isn´t a real cryptocurrency either! That´s because it´s issued by a centralised entity, doesn´t run on a real blockchain and rather than being subject to the whims of the cryptomarkets it is pegged to a basked of fiat currencies. So it´s much more akin to something like the Gemini dollar, a stable coin issued by the Winklevoss twins exchange. And it is probably not a coincidence that the twins´ longtime rival Mark Zuckerberg chose another star sign for the name of the coin.
LibraMyth No 7: Libra will comply with all regulations
Libra says its Founding Members are “committed to working with authorities to shape a regulatory environment that encourages technological innovation while maintaining the highest standards of consumer protection”.
Libra says its Founding Members are committed to working with authorities to shape a regulatory environment
Really? Openly stating the intent “to shape a regulatory environment” rather than comply with the existing regulatory environment is a veiled assertion that Facebook is more powerful than the state, and that regulators should have to buckle to its will. While Facebook probably does have some sway over national bodies, to assume it can also sway international regulatory bodies like the BIS — which happen to have a bee in their bonnet about the use and abuse of customer floats by non-banks — is truly ambitious.
Overall the use of words blockchain and cryptocurrency is more about PR value than substance!
And ever thought about the fact that if we have a currency issued by companies: What if these companies are going bankrupt? Are they already TOO BIG TO FAIL? Another interesting aspect is who is NOT part of the consortium: Amazon, Google, Apple. And there is not a single bank! Will talk about that soon!
Sources: Cryptorobby, Alphaville, FinancialTimes
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