Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency has been dealt a further blow after Swiss government officials issued a memo insinuating that it might have to reassess the project based in Geneva.
The council, last week stated that it will continue to monitor Libra ‘in particular the form which Libra may take in the future’.
The government added: “Switzerland is generally open to projects that reduce the cost of cross-border payment transactions and seek to promote financial inclusion.”
The statement is in response to comments made by Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer last December, in which he condemned Libra in its current form, telegraphing that the product Facebook wants to launch in Geneva isn’t going to get approved in its current state.
Maurer affirmed this commitment in an interview with national broadcaster SRF, underlining his belief that the project has fallen short of expectations because of the currencies Libra has backed.
Nils Reimelt of Capco Digital, a financial services consulting company based in Zurich, stated that: “governments want to stay in control and Libra has to tweak their model and align to regulations to not become a threat.”
Reimelt commented further saying that the Libra also made strategic errors in not reaching out to Swiss bank regulator Finma, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, about applying for a banking license and the decision to not include the Swiss franc in the list of currencies backing the cryptocurrency.
“As long as the SEC is concerned about Libra, saying it’s based on relatively new and unproven technology and could rival the U.S. dollar, other governments including the Swiss will take a wait and see approach.”
Libra’s relationship with some governments and regulators has raised questions. The Libra Association are reported saying that they are taking these issues “very seriously and are working hard to provide thoughtful answers.
“We are committed to a continuous and constructive dialogue. Our objective remains to find the best way to launch a fast, secure and compliant international payment system.”
Facebook planned to launch Libra in 2020 but Bertrand Perez, Libra’s chief operating officer, had since refrained from providing a release date, saying in September that its introduction depends on discussions with regulators.
Perez said: “This is why indeed we cannot say that we won’t launch in 2020, or that we are certain to launch on a particular date in 2020.”
The cryptocurrencies recent negative attention marks a dramatic change in tone from the warm welcome Swiss regulators gave to Facebook in June when it chose Geneva as the project’s base.
However, after the Securities & Exchange Commission, U.S. and European politicians lined up to express concerns about currency sovereignty, Facebook’s recent record on misuse of data, and Libra’s potential as a magnet for financial criminals among other reports mentioned, the relationship seems to have soured.