Mark Zuckerberg

Opening Statement to the House Financial Services Committee on Project Libra

delivered 23 October 2019, Washington, D.C.



[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you. Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and -- and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

As we sit here, there are more than a billion people around the world who don't have access to a bank account -- but could through mobile phones if the right system existed. And that includes more than 14 million people right here in the U.S. Being shut out of the financial system has real consequences for people's lives, and it's often the most disadvantaged people who pay the highest price. People pay far too high a cost to have to wait far too long to send money home to their families abroad. The current system is failing them. The financial industry is stagnant and there is no digital- financial architecture to support the innovation that we need.

I believe that this problem can be solved and Libra can help. The idea behind Libra is that sending money should be as easy and secure as sending a message. Libra will be a global payment system, fully backed by a reserve of cash and highly liquid assets.

Now, I believe that this is something that needs to get built, but I get that I'm not the ideal messenger for this right now. You know, we've faced a lot of issues over the past few years and I'm sure there are a lot of people who wish it were anyone but Facebook who are helping to propose this.

But there's a reason that we care about this and that's because Facebook is about putting power in people's hands. Our services already give people a voice to express what matters to them and to build businesses that create opportunity. Giving people control of their money is important too. And a simple, secure, and stable way to transfer money is empowering. Over the long term if this means that more people transact on our platforms, that'll be good for our business; but even if it doesn't I still think this could help people everywhere.

Before we move forward, there are important risks that need to be addressed. There are questions about financial stability, fighting terrorism, and more. And I'm here today to discuss those risks and how we plan to address them.

But I also hope that we get a chance to talk about the risks of not innovating, because while we debate these issues the rest of the world isn't waiting. China is moving quickly to launch a similar idea in the coming months. Libra is going to be backed mostly by dollars and I believe that it will extend America's financial leadership around the world as -- as well as our democratic values and -- and oversight. But if America doesn't innovate our financial leadership is not guaranteed.

I -- I actually don't know if Libra is going to work but I believe that it's important to try new things; and as -- as long as you're doing so responsibly. That's what has made America successful; and it's why our tech industry has led the world.

So we co-wrote a white paper to put this idea out into the world and to start a conversation with regulators and experts and governance. And today's hearing is an important part of that process. What we're discussing today is too important for any single company to undertake on its own. And that's why we helped to found the Libra Association. It's a coalition of 21 companies and nonprofits that are working to give everyone access to financial tools. But even though the Libra Association is independent and we don't control it, I want to be clear: Facebook will not be a part of launching the Libra payment system anywhere in the world, even outside the U.S., until the U.S. regulators approve.

The last time I testified before Congress, I -- I talked about taking a broader view of our responsibility and that includes making sure our services are used for good and preventing harm. And I want to discuss that across other aspects of our work today as well. People shouldn't be discriminated against on any of our services. We have policies in place to prevent hate speech and remove harmful content.

But discrimination can also show up and how ads are targeted and shown too. As part of a settlement with civil rights groups, we've banned advertisers from using age, gender, or zip codes to target housing, employment, or credit opportunities. We've limited interest-based targeting for these ads too. This is part of our commitment to support civil rights and -- and prevent discrimination.

I also know that we need more diverse perspectives in our company. Diversity leads to better decisions and better services for our community. We've made diversity a priority in hiring and we've also made a commitment that within five years more than 50% of our workforce will be women, people of color, and other under-represented groups. We've made some progress here. There -- There are more people of color, women in technical and business roles, and under-represented people in leadership at Facebook now. But I know that we still have a long way to go.

Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and Members of the Committee:

This has been a challenging few years for Facebook. I -- I recognize that we play an important role in society and have unique responsibilities because of that. And I feel blessed to be in a position where we can make a difference in people's lives. And for as long as I'm here, I am committed to using our position to push for big ideas that I believe can help empower people.

Thank you, and I'm looking forward to answering your questions.  

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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