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Zuckerberg reassures Congress on his digital currency

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 23, 2019 - Duration: 03:08s

Zuckerberg reassures Congress on his digital currency

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to win over skeptical House lawmakers as he tries to launch Libra, a global digital currency he said would help the world's 'unbanked.'

Conway G.

Gittens wraps up his marathon testimony.

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Zuckerberg reassures Congress on his digital currency

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday walked in to testify before the House Financial Services committee with the task of winning lawmakers over on the social networks' plan to launch a global digital currency called Libra.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG, SAYING: "As we sit here there are more than a billion people around the world who don't have access to a bank account but could through mobile phones but could if the right system existed.

The idea behind Libra is that sending money should be as easy and secure as sending a message." Not surprisingly, Zuckerberg faced a skeptical crowd on both sides of the aisle.

Democratic head of the committee Representative Maxine Waters pointed to Facebook's inability to combat the spread of misinformation, as one reason why it can't be trusted with people's money.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA, SAYING: "As I have examined Facebook's various problems, I've come to the conclusion that it would be beneficial for all - if Facebook concentrates on addressing its many deficiencies and failures before preceding any further on the Libra project." Also looming large over his testimony - the Cambridge Analytica scandal - where Facebook allowed customer data to be misused by the consulting firm in order to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG, SAYING: "I believe that this is something that needs to get built but I get that I'm not the ideal messenger for this right now.

We've faced a lot of issues over the past few years and I'm sure there are a lot of people who wish it was anyone but Facebook who were helping to propose this." Some of the committee's Republican members defended Facebook, fearing it is being over scrutinized in way that will stifle American innovation.

Here's ranking Republican Representative Patrick McHenry.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER PATRICK MCHENRY (R) NORTH CAROLINA, SAYING: "There's a lot of anger out there and now it's being directed at the architects of this system.

That's why you're here Mr. Zuckerberg, that's why you're hear today.

You are one of the titans of what we call the digital age." But that doesn't mean Zuckerberg got a free pass.

He was peppered with questions about the possibility of Libra being used for money laundering, terrorism, pornography, child sex exploitation, and other anonymous transactions.

What about refunds for bad transactions?

How will customer data be protected?

And the role Libra could play in undermining the role of the dollar as the world's reserve currency?

Many of those questions went unanswered....but Zuckerberg did try to reassure lawmakers regarding Facebook's involvement in the Swiss-based consortium backing Libra.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG, SAYING: "I just want to make sure it is 100 percent clear to everyone today that my commitment running Facebook is that we're going to launch anything that is a product or a part of this until we have full support from U.S. regulators, regardless of what international regulators say." Criticism from some of those regulators and lawmakers around the world has caused Libra to falter even before its planned 2020 launch.

Feeling the heat - major financial partners such as MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and eBay have pulled out.

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