Google’s Own Crypto? Separating Fact from Fiction
Today, June 3rd, The Independent published an article on Google’s crypto ad ban, featuring remarks from Phillip Nunn, the CEO of investment firm Blackmore Group. Nunn posited that Google’s ad ban might be related to Google’s desire to launch its own crypto. It’s an interesting line of thought, to say the least. On the flip side, I explain why a native Google crypto may not be the case for now as well other important factors that are in play.
Context: Blackmore Group CEO’s Comments
In waxing on the underlying factors of the ban, Nunn speculated Google might be gunning for a crypto launch of its own. He said:
“I suspect the ban has been implemented to fit in with potential plans to introduce their own cryptocurrency to the market in the near future and therefore removing other crypto adverts allows them to do it on their own terms.”
Google did just make an unsuccessful hiring flex on Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, after all.
Accordingly, Nunn’s proposal is a fascinating and, frankly believable, proposition. But, while it’s a fair assertion that will unquestionably play well to many segments of the ecosystem, one can’t help but wonder if antitrust laws don’t throw a wrench into the notion.
A Dash of Cold Water
That’s right, antitrust laws. If Google did try to launch its own crypto after banning all cryptocurrency ads, the tech giants might find themselves afoul of antitrust laws in various jurisdictions around the globe.
In the United States, for example, antitrust statutes would appear to be an obstacle if Google wanted to start its own project in the wake of its ad ban, as Wikipedia explains:
“These Acts, first, restrict the formation of cartels and prohibit other collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade. Second, they restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations that could substantially lessen competition. Third, they prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power.”
So if Google did gun for its own cryptocurrency, then it might be in violation of cartel-like behavior, the restraint of trade, and the abuse of monopoly power, since the search engine powerhouse could be construed as playing to their own vested interests to the detriment of the entire cryptoeconomy.
It would depend on each respective jurisdiction’s legislation, of course. But it’s a complicating factor that makes Google running its own crypto in the near-term not so black and white, or at least far from guaranteed.
Even If Google Wants Its Own Crypto, Its Ban May Be Defensible
Flipping back to Nunn’s point though, Google might have no legal problems running its own cryptocurrency project if it decisively defends its crypto ad ban on the basis that it was protecting consumers from a flood of scams, which admittedly there have been among ICOs, as well as proactively tackling concerns over securities laws violations.
It’s fair points or lip service depending on who you ask, but the line of thought might be Google’s “get out of jail free card” if antitrust lawsuits cropped up in a hypothetical scenario.
Playing Catch Up?
Earlier this year, Facebook came out saying they were “very serious” about introducing their own cryptocurrency. Amazon’s pumping out blockchain-centric patents. And IBM has hundreds of blockchain projects under its belt.
Objectively, then, Google’s behind and it might be looking to play catch up.
Whatever happens, it’s clear that the legitimization of blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies is already upon us, albeit in its early stages. Otherwise Facebook, Google, Amazon, and IBM would be keeping to other pursuits.
So if it’s a rat race forming, then Google presumably should start picking up more speed. How it does that from here, though, is anyone’s guess.
What’s your take? Do you think it’s probable or improbable that the Silicon Valley powerhouse launches its own crypto? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Forbes, HR in Asia