April 19, 2024
US Lawmakers Grill Meta on Crypto and Blockchain Amid Trademark Filings
Policy & Regulation

US Lawmakers Grill Meta on Crypto and Blockchain Amid Trademark Filings

In a move to scrutinize Meta’s potential involvement in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, the United States House Financial Services Committee is urging the tech giant to disclose any plans it may have in this domain. The call comes as Meta has five active cryptocurrency and blockchain-related trademark applications dating back to March 18, 2022.

Maxine Waters, the ranking member of the Committee, raised concerns in a letter to Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and operating chief Javier Olivan. Waters pointed out that the trademark applications, filed in 2022, “appear to represent a continued intention to expand the company’s involvement in the digital assets ecosystem.”

Waters highlighted a contradiction between Meta’s actions and its statements, noting that despite telling Democratic Financial Services Committee staff on October 12, 2023, that there was no ongoing digital assets work at Meta, the trademark applications suggest otherwise.

Meta had abandoned its plans for the payments-focused crypto stablecoin Diem (formerly Libra) in mid-2019 due to pressure from lawmakers. In January 2022, Diem was sold for $200 million to the now-collapsed Silvergate Bank. Similarly, Meta’s 2019 plan to launch a digital wallet, Novi (formerly Calibra), by 2020 did not materialize, and no new release date has been indicated.

The trademark filings encompass a range of services related to cryptocurrency and blockchain assets, including trading, exchange, payments, transfers, wallets, and associated hardware and software infrastructure.

Each filing has received a Notice of Allowance (NOA), indicating that the application meets registration requirements. Meta has six months to respond to the NOAs, either by stating its intent to use the trademark or requesting a six-month extension. The earliest response deadline is February 15, with the latest NOA sent on January 16, extending the deadline to July 16.

Waters posed several questions to Meta, seeking clarification on its response to the NOAs, intentions regarding Web3, crypto, or digital wallet projects, and the potential launch of a crypto payments platform. She also inquired about Meta’s research into stablecoins, possible partnerships with stablecoin projects, its stance on adopting distributed ledger technology (DLT), and how its technology might facilitate crypto-related functions within its metaverse.

As Meta faces increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies, the company’s responses to these inquiries could provide crucial insights into its future involvement in the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Image: Wallpapers.com

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