Facebook is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Libra doesn’t get botched, and it is stepping up its presence in Washington in a bid to get it done.
According to a report from O’Dwyers, the social media giant has hired FS Vector, a lobbying firm, to help smooth things out in D.C. as it works to continue developing its stablecoin project. The report cited registration documents filed with the United States Congress, adding that the company retained FS Vector in a bid to support concerning “issues related to blockchain policy.”
FS Vector was founded last year, and the Washington-based firm describes itself as an advisory firm focused on public policy, regulatory compliance, and business strategy. It added that it caters primarily to financial institutions, Regtech, and FinTech companies, working to improve the ability to these innovative ventures to overcome the challenges they face.
The report also showed that the account for Facebook would be led by John Collins, a partner at the lobbyist firm. Collins previously served as the Vice President of International Policy at the Bankers’ Association for Finance and Trade, itself a subsidiary of the American Bankers’ Association.
Before that, he also worked as a Senior Professional Staff for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security Affairs, while helming the affairs as Congress looked into several issues concerning digital currencies several years ago.
The hiring effort is coming fresh off the widespread criticism that Facebook and Libra have gotten from lawmakers. While many in the tech and crypto spaces see the stablecoin as a great way to break from the establishment and induce millions of people (perhaps billions, even) to buy cryptocurrency, the power players in Washington seem to remain skeptical.
You can’t blame Congress for batting an eyelash whenever Facebook chooses to move into a new industry.
Apart from the fact that the company is one of the Big Tech giants that have been fingered for trying to create 21st-century monopolies (along with names like Amazon and Apple Inc.), its chequered past with privacy and security issues (which sent its stock trading downwards last year) have continued to follow it.
It would seem that the general consensus amongst lawmakers is that this crypto project would end up being either a move by Facebook to consolidate power or another privacy fiasco.
A Congress hearing scheduled back in July did little to help Facebook’s case. Its representative, David Marcus, was made to sit through two days of grilling and questioning, in sessions that seemed more like a condemnation trial than a fair hearing. Everywhere Marcus turned, he was hammered with talk of privacy issues and user security.
Fearing that Libra might end up getting gutted at Congress before it even launches, the social media giant is now hiring some heavy muscle to ease things. Earlier this month, the company hired Susan Zook, a former aide to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Mike Crapo (R-ID), to lobby for the asset. Her appointment followed that of Edward Bowles, a former senior bank lobbyist at Standard Chartered, two months earlier.
FS Vector will reportedly be joining several other lobbying firms, including the Cypress Group, the Sternhell Group, and law firm Davis Polk, to help get Libra past Congress.