Libra: With Opportunity Comes Responsibility to Safeguard

Together, we can ensure the products and services using the Facebook-backed platform create trust and value.

Libra, a new digital currency backed by blockchain technology and introduced today by Facebook, has the potential to reach any consumer with a digital connection. It’s exciting news for the 3 billion people worldwide who are currently unserved or underserved by the world’s financial sector. In addition to leveraging connections between people already on the world’s largest social network, the platform will be leveraged by many innovators — starting with an impressive array of founding members — enabling people across the globe to transact and access new products securely. While this represents a huge opportunity, there’s also a responsibility to ensure that access to the platform and new financial service customers’ data and funds be safeguarded.

The value proposition of a global payment infrastructure has been recognized before, with many innovators moving into this space to launch solutions tailored to the underserved. Yet, the potential scale of Libra, through familiar and popular platforms such as WhatsApp and those of other founding companies, is a potential game changer. Libra has the potential to add a streamlined payment feature in millions of people’s phones – without even requiring that they download a new app.

At the Smart Campaign, we’re enthusiastic about the potential for partnerships and innovations through Libra, which will be governed by the independent, non-profit Libra Association. Vulnerable unbanked and underbanked populations still face challenges to access high-quality and trustworthy products. Libra will allow a wide range of innovators to develop creative solutions, backed by secure technology.

Ensuring the privacy and security of client data is at the core of building lasting trust in a digital world. Providers can strengthen their privacy and security practices by having:

  • Sound data collection and storage policies
  • Clear guidelines about when and with whom to share data
  • Informed consumers who have meaningful choices in regard to the handling of their data
  • Systems to detect and respond to fraud

Those are a few of the safeguards that the Smart Campaign promotes with providers and is helping providers to implement. Together, we can ensure that the products and services that are developed to use the Libra platform create trust and value for both providers and customers.

The Client Protection Principles, which form the cornerstone of the Smart Campaign’s work, provide a framework to anticipate and evaluate the consumer risks introduced by blockchain innovations. We look forward to working with innovators in the Libra community, as we have with our Fintech Protects Community of Practice. Similar to our work with Fintech Protects, we hope to promote greater awareness and consensus among Libra innovators on consumer risks in digital financial services and how to mitigate them.

We hope to promote greater awareness and consensus among Libra innovators on consumer risks in digital financial services and how to mitigate them.

There will be adoption challenges for any cryptocurrency among low-income consumers. Over a decade of learning about the needs of this customer segment has shown us that appropriate product design requires a feedback loop between consumers and those developing the products. We know that payments can be an on ramp to access, but that does not guarantee consumers will make meaningful use of other core financial services, such as credit, savings, or insurance. Thinking through the last mile use cases for Libra, including cash out points and merchant transactions, will be key, as will anticipating the risks that can damage consumer trust. Our goal is to ensure that new financial products aren’t just exciting new innovations, but that they actually deliver quality, appropriate, fair and trusted services.

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