US monetary official warns of risks from rapid spread of Facebook’s bitcoin Libra

Facebook’s digital currency Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets to avoid the wild swings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 December 2019

US monetary official warns of risks from rapid spread of Facebook’s bitcoin Libra

  • Expected to launch in the first half of 2020, Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets
  • Facebook’s project has been met with fierce resistance from officials worldwide

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Digital currencies can be risky, but Facebook’s Libra could be a massive challenge given the potential for rapid spread and the dubious safeguards, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.
“Cryptocurrencies already pose a number of risks to the financial system, and these could be magnified by a widely accepted stablecoin for general use,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in a speech.
Expected to launch in the first half of 2020, Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets to avoid the wild swings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
But Facebook’s project has been met with fierce resistance from officials worldwide, especially due to the lack of clarity over how it will be governed and monitored.
“With nearly one-third of the global population as active users on Facebook, the Libra stablecoin project stands out for the speed with which its network could reach global scale in payments,” Brainard said.
And unlike national currencies that are backed by central banks, and deposits insured by governments, it is “not clear whether comparable protections will be in place with Libra, or what recourse consumers will have.”
“Without requisite safeguards, stablecoin networks at global scale may put consumers at risk.”
And because Libra could be distributed worldwide upon launching, regulation and oversight must be global since no one country could handle it alone, Brainard said.
She noted the “staggering” losses from fraud and theft of cryptocurrencies from $1.7 billion in 2018 to over $4.4 billion in 2019, based on one industry estimate.
“The hacking of exchanges represents a significant source of the theft,” she said.
A Facebook official last month said Libra would take decades rather than years to establish itself.
And in response to the resistance from regulators, the social media giant’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last month opened the door to scaling back plans for Libra if it cannot win approval as a new currency for global exchanges.


Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

Updated 23 January 2021

Egypt receives 1.4 million tourists in second half of 2020

  • Al-Anani said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic
  • Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved

CAIRO: As of December, Egypt received 1.4 million tourists since the resumption of the tourism activities at the beginning of July, bringing the total number of tourists during 2020 to 3.7 million.
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani revealed this during a meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, to review the ministry’s plans to combat the coronavirus.
He said that 756 hotels and 1,039 tourist restaurants have obtained health and safety certificates since the start of the pandemic.
The minister also reviewed the domestic tourism initiative Winter in Egypt and the discounted prices in this initiative.
Charges for trips to Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada were reduced and ticket prices for all archaeological sites and museums were halved.
The minister also reviewed the follow-up on the Cabinet’s decisions to support the tourism sector.
The minister discussed the support offered to the tourism sector, including the procedures to obtain credit facilities and to extend support though the Ministry of Social Solidarity to tourist guides until the end of December 2020.
On Friday, the Egyptian government cut the price of fuel for the aviation sector to support the tourism sector and stimulate aviation in Egypt. According to a statement, the reduction of 15 cents per gallon will continue until the end of this year.
Tourism revenues in Egypt have fallen by more than 69 percent over the past year, from $13.03 billion in 2019 to $4 billion in 2020, Al-Anani said.