Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., distanced himself from President Donald Trump's criticism of Facebook's plan for the new Libra cryptocurrency, telling CNBC on Tuesday the digital coin should be given a chance.
Sen. Toomey said Libra is an "exciting innovation" that seeks to find solutions for the volatility that harms other digital currencies, but he still has questions for Facebook before its 2020 launch.
"I don't want to presume in advance that we've got to prevent the development of some new innovation," Toomey said. "Maybe there could be some innovation in this space that would provide security and that would dramatically lower the cost of transactions."
But the senator said he is unsure what Facebook's business motive is, since the wallet, not the currency, is its expected income driver.
"It sounds like they're suggesting it's not about getting data," Toomey said. "If that's not the real motivator here, what is? That's a real question for me."
Toomey made the comments before he and other members of the Senate Banking Committee were to question Facebook's David Marcus, who is head of the company's Calibra digital wallet, which will be used to store Libra.
Since announcing the Libra plan last month, Facebook has faced criticism, including from Trump. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday called it a "national security issue," [because] "cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, and human trafficking."
In an attempt to limit criticism, Facebook has said Libra will not be run by it but by a nonprofit association backed by a range of companies and organizations.
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