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US House Committee Pressures Meta for Transparency on Crypto and Blockchain Plans

The United States House Financial Services Committee is increasing pressure on Meta to reveal its intentions regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency.

This scrutiny stems from the existence of five cryptocurrency and blockchain-related trademark applications that have remained active since 2022.

In a letter dated January 22, Maxine Waters, the ranking member of the committee, addressed Meta’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as operating chief Javier Olivan.

Waters pointed out that these trademark applications, all filed on March 18, 2022, “appear to represent a continued intention to expand the company’s involvement in the digital assets ecosystem.”

This assertion contradicts Meta’s previous statement to Democratic Financial Services Committee staff on October 12, 2023, in which they claimed that there was no ongoing work related to digital assets within the company.

It’s worth noting that Meta had abandoned its plans for the Diem cryptocurrency stablecoin (formerly known as Libra) back in mid-2019 due to pressure from lawmakers.

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They eventually sold Diem to the now-defunct Silvergate Bank for $200 million in January 2022.

Additionally, Meta’s plan to launch a digital wallet called Novi (formerly Calibra) by 2020 has also faltered, with no indication of a new release date.

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

Meta has received a Notice of Allowance (NOA) for each of these filings, indicating that the applications meet registration requirements.

Within six months, Meta must either file a statement confirming its intention to use the trademark or request a six-month extension to file the statement.

Meta’s deadline to respond to the first NOA, sent on August 15, 2023, is February 15. The latest NOA, sent on January 16, grants Meta until July 16 to respond.

Waters has posed several critical questions to Meta, including how the company plans to address the NOAs, whether it is pursuing projects related to Web3, cryptocurrency, or digital wallets, and if it intends to launch a cryptocurrency payments platform.

She also inquired about Meta’s research on stablecoins and potential partnerships with stablecoin projects, its interest in adopting distributed ledger technology (DLT), and how its technology might enable crypto-related functions within its metaverse.

As of now, Meta has not responded to requests for comment on these matters.

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