- David Marcus, head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency efforts, testified at a House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services hearing about Libra, the social network’s forthcoming cryptocurrency.
- Rep. Bill Huizenga used his time to question Marcus and slip in humorous asides, including an explanation of traveler’s checks for younger representatives, and a comparison of Libra to a platypus.
- “Is it a security, is it an exchange-traded product, what exactly is this? Is it fish or fowl?” Huizenga asked about Libra. “It seems it’s more of a platypus, to me.”
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Rep. Bill Huizenga used his time at Wednesday’s House of Representatives hearing on Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra to question Facebook exec David Marcus and to slip in a few humorous asides.
The Michigan Republican’s main line of questioning, and pleasantries, centered around how to define Facebook’s yet-to-launch cryptocurrency.
“Is it a security, is it an exchange-traded product, what exactly is this? Is it fish or fowl?” Rep. Huizenga wondered. “It seems it’s more of a platypus, to me.”
Huizenga followed his metaphor by asking Marcus if Libra can actually maintain the essence of a cryptocurrency if it’s under so many regulations. Marcus stated that Facebook views Libra as a digital currency with the purpose of being a payment tool, and appropriate regulation would be necessary with Libra potentially reaching so many users.
Wednesday wasn’t the first time Rep. Huizenga turned to the platypus, an egg-laying mammal considered one of the natural world’s oddities, to describe cryptocurrency’s hybrid status as a financial asset. In July 2018, Rep. Huizenga gave an interview in his office on Capitol Hill during which he spoke about the challenges of classifying digital currencies, according to Bloomberg.
“It’s kind of an unknown, or something sort of in between. How do we deal with that?” Rep. Huizenga said during that interview, conjuring up the same fish or fowl set-up used on Wednesday. Rep. Huizenga concluded, “it turns out it might be a platypus.”
Read more: Facebook says its Libra cryptocurrency will be regulated by Swiss authorities — but that was news to those Swiss authorities.
Later in his testimony on Wednesday, Rep. Huizenga compared Libra to old-fashioned traveler’s checks, and went on to explain how they worked for the benefit of younger members of the audience who came of age after traveler’s checks went out of fashion.
“You might be the equivalent of American Express traveler’s checks, of days of old,” Rep. Huizenga joked about Libra. “For the lower dais and the staff…they were actually paper and you carried them with you,” Rep. Huizenga explained, spurring laughter in the room.
“You bought them at a bank” someone offered from the floor, which Rep. Huizenga repeated, adding “you actually put a fiat currency towards it.”
The House’s hearing on Wednesday was held to examine Libra’s future impact on consumers, investors, and the US financial system. On Tuesday, Marcus testified at a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing about Libra.
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