One of crypto’s biggest critics, Russia, is surprisingly nonchalant about Libra.
Why Is Russia so Calm?
Facebook is on the verge of releasing a new digital asset it’s calling Libra. The currency will allow users to pay for goods and services through the social media’s WhatsApp platform and through merchants’ websites that offer Facebook login options. Many executives, including David Marcus who heads Facebook’s blockchain division, have rushed to Libra’s defense, saying that it’s designed to assist the unbanked and give people financial independence.
Only many aren’t falling for these allegations. In fact, several members of the U.S. Congress have asked Facebook to put its cryptocurrency ambitions on hold until all questions regarding the asset can be answered. The social media company has been tied to several ongoing scandals over the past year, including Cambridge Analytica, and the idea that Facebook can now be trusted with people’s monetary data is a little frightening to some.
Russia, however, doesn’t seem all that perturbed. In the past, Russia has had a very mixed relationship with cryptocurrencies. While the country has seen crypto use over the past few years, legislators have been concerned about the country’s national currency, the ruble, and what its prospects are given that cryptocurrency present a certain level of competition.
In the past, Russia has meandered from wanting to ban crypto exchanges outright and implementing jail time for crypto users, to looking into building its own national digital currency.
At press time, Russia is working on new legislation that could potentially legalize all crypto use within the country’s borders. This is certainly a step in the right direction, though solidifying this legislation is still a way off, and there still appears to be concern over what could happen with the ruble. On July 1, Alexei Moiseev – Russia’s deputy finance minister – commented that the country is looking to treat Libra like any other cryptocurrency, but that the ruble still holds stronger ground within the nation.
No one is going to ban it, but the ruble is our national currency, and all calculations must be made in it.
Secret Plans, or Lack of Users?
Still, Russia is relatively calm towards Libra – especially when compared to regions such as Europe and the U.S. The reason could be that Facebook doesn’t boast a huge user base in the country. At the time of writing, it is estimated Facebook only boasts about 6.2 million users in Russia. It has also been alleged that Russia potentially used bitcoin to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Marcus and his team have not made it clear how Libra is safeguarded against money laundering or other illicit behavior. Perhaps Russia is calm because it’s considering how Libra can be used behind closed doors. Either way, the situation gives rise to more questions regarding the cryptocurrency and its properties.