The Takeaway: Brokers and traders should pay close attention to how Facebook addresses regulation of Diem
Yesterday I shared some insights about Amazon’s potential for building a digital nation based on the creation of its own digital token. The company signaled efforts in this area by announcing a search for staff with experience in creating digital currency. Writing about their efforts naturally led me to thinking about the efforts of another large platform manager, Facebook.
Given over 2 billion subscribers to Facebook’s platform and millions of daily users, The Menlo Park, California-based company seems like another likely candidate for “digital nation” status. Arguably it is ahead of Amazon in the creation of its own digital currency, the Diem. But is it ahead of Amazon when it comes to putting in place the transactional environment necessary for a “digital country?”
Facebook’s purported mission, according to its annual report, is to “give people the power to build community and to bring the world closer together.” Facebook generates almost all of its revenues from advertisement and while it considers Amazon a competitor in the advertisement space, Facebook has not invested in transportation, storage, or distribution systems for goods and services or subscriber content production. In my opinion, these channels have boosted Amazon’s value as an issuer of digital coins because they represent the underpinnings of a transactional environment. Transactions are the underpinnings of growth in output and income and while there are notices of items for sale in numerous Facebook groups and advertisement appearing on users’ profiles, Facebook is more of a personal data aggregator than it is a market for trade.
Lastly, what also works against Facebook is its history of data privacy breaches. Both aisles of Congress have come down on Facebook for its lack of transparency in notifying its subscribers as to how the company uses consumer data. These privacy concerns have also leaked into Congress’ assessment of how the company’s proposed digital currency would be incorporated into any potential data grabbing strategies.
I believe what is more important to Congress than its rhetoric about consumer protection and privacy is how a digital currency provided by a behemoth digital platform could challenge the United States’ ability as a tax and customs jurisdiction. Should a significant number of miners, farmers, merchants, and other business entities start using Facebook’s digital currency to exchange among themselves and with Facebook’s end user subscribers, Facebook becomes a new nation-state.
Facebook hopes to have Diem launched by the end of 2021. What impact the current variation in the corona virus and the ensuing Covid disease will have on deployment is unknown. Right now, speculators and broker/dealers may not have Diem on their radar, but they should, like Amazon, prepare for a large platform issuing its currency and also determine how Diem should be valued.
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Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 27 July 2021)
Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%
Discount Window: 0.25%
Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%
3-month Treasury bill: 0.05%
6-month Treasury bill: 0.06%
1-year Treasury bill: 0.08%
Exchange rates of interest as of 9:02 am EST
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Sources: *Reuters +OANDA