By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman has repeatedly declined to tell a US Congress committee whether Facebook's digital pound currency can be regulated as an asset.
As a member of the Financial Services Commission along with other SEC directors, the chairman of the US capital markets supervisory body, Jay Clayton, said that while he has not yet discussed the plan for digital currency with Facebook, he maintains a policy of "open doors".
Asked directly if he believes the pound could be considered a financial asset, he said he "is not prepared to make a decision like this."
The Swiss Libra Association, an organization formed by Facebook and 27 other members, announced in June that it planned to launch the pound, a digital currency backed by a basket of coins, by 2020.
Clayton's comments come as the pound faces increasing global pressure from financial regulators.
France and Germany have said they will block the functioning of the pound in Europe and will support the development of a public cryptocurrency.
The SEC may play an important role in regulating the pound and warned earlier that the issuance of similar currencies needs to be regulated.
Facebook says the pound aims to make online payments simpler and cheaper, especially between different countries.
"Cryptocurrencies, while having benefits, can pose a great risk, particularly in cases where, in form, they are the same as financial assets or currencies, or payment systems, and not regulated in the same way," Clayton said.
This Tuesday's hearing marked the first time since 2007 that a US Congressional committee heard all SEC directors and their chairman.
(By Katanga Johnson and Pete Schroeder)