Financial regulators must act fast to prepare for the push by U.S. tech giants such as Facebook Inc. into the financial system, according to European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure.
“It’s out of the question to allow them to develop in a regulatory void for their financial service activities, because it’s just too dangerous,” Coeure said on Sunday in Aix-en-Provence in southern France. “We have to move more quickly than we’ve been able to do up until now.”
Facebook’s plan for a digital currency called Libra has policy makers scrambling. The U.K.’s three main financial regulators are working together on how best to respond. Governor Mark Carney has said the Bank of England approaches it “with an open mind but not an open door.”
The plan has also drawn fire in Washington, with more than 30 groups influential with Democrats demanding a halt to the project to deal with the “profound questions” it raises. David Marcus, the executive leading Facebook’s Libra and blockchain efforts, will testify before Congress this month on the initiative.
Coeure said that the development of digital currencies is exposing deficiencies in existing regulation and the failure of the banking system to adopt new technology.
“All these projects are a rather useful wake-up call for regulators and public authorities, as they encourage us to raise a number of questions and might make us improve the way we do things,” Coeure said.