Antitrust regulators may also scrutinize internet firms' cryptocurrencies: German cartel chief

Small toy figures are seen on representations of virtual currency in front of the Libra logo in this illustration picture, June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Cryptocurrencies backed by big internet companies could come under the scrutiny of antitrust regulators, the head of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office said on Thursday after Facebook last week launched its own version.

Central bankers and financial watchdogs were quick to raise concerns about Facebook’s planned Libra global cryptocurrency, saying that it could become so pervasive as to disrupt the global monetary policy framework.

Germany’s antitrust watchdog’s president Andreas Mundt, who has pursued the world’s largest social network over other areas of its business, told reporters that cryptocurrencies launched by companies like Facebook “could become a topic for us”.

Mundt has taken Facebook to task over its handling of data collected from users of the social network and its messaging apps without their consent, finding the firm founded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg abused its market dominance.

In its ruling in February, the Federal Cartel Office ordered Facebook to curb its data collection practices. The company appealed that decision, which is now before the German courts.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Alexander Smith