Facebook Libra to review charter, appoint board of directors on 14 October
Libra is already changing the world, and it hasn't even launched yet.
Executives from the Libra Association, the group of companies behind the Facebook-led Libra cryptocurrency project, will be convening in Geneva on 14 October to appoint a board of directors and review the organisation's charter, according to the WSJ.
But they won't necessarily be convening in a fun, happy, "everything is going really well" kind of way, the WSJ suggests.
"Cracks are forming in the coalition Facebook Inc. assembled to build a global cryptocurrency-based payments network," it says, noting that Visa, Mastercard and other partners are "reconsidering their involvement" in the Libra project following the concerted backlash Facebook and Libra endured from lawmakers in the United States and Europe.
And after seeing how harsh the regulatory spotlight is, Libra Association members have also declined to publicly speak up in support of the project, the WSJ says, leaving Facebook sweating alone on the stage.
At the same time, the WSJ reports that Libra Association members have supposedly been pressing Facebook and project lead David Marcus for more information on how the Libra platform will prevent money laundering, and "haven't received detailed answers".
That last part is wrong, Marcus said on Twitter.
"The part of this article suggesting we weren't on top of, or didn't share detailed information about how to secure Libra and protect the network against illegal activity is categorically untrue; (worth calling BS)," he wrote.
This isn't the first time the paper has come under fire from crypto companies for factually dubious reporting.
And the rest of the piece, Marcus says, isn't really what's going on either.
"The tone of some of this reporting suggests angst, etc... I can tell you that we're very calmly, and confidently working through the legitimate concerns that Libra has raised by bringing conversations about the value of digital currencies to the forefront," he wrote.
He goes on to say that he hasn't heard of any specific organisations wanting to back out, but suggests that if they want to leave, they probably should.
"Change of this magnitude is hard and requires courage, plus it will be a long journey. For Libra to succeed it needs committed members, and while I have no knowledge of specific organizations plans to not step up, commitment to the mission is more important than anything else," he said.
The mission might be harder, and perhaps less immediately profitable and necessary, than Libra Association members anticipated when they first signed up. The payments landscape has also quickly changed around it.
Libra was originally envisioned as a digital currency solution to the expensive and disconnected international payments network.
But here are some of the things that have happened since Libra made its move:
- SWIFT announced a bold new vision for the future, around the statement that "only a seamless and open global value transfer system" can bring it. This was literally two days after the Libra whitepaper was revealed.
- With only a minor flourish, China pulled the curtain off its national digital currency, whose development started in 2014. It's expected to be released on 11 November.
- The European Central Bank, citing Libra as "a wake up call", said it would look at more aggressively pushing its real-time payments system across international borders. "We also need to step up our thinking on a central bank digital currency," a European Central Bank board member said.
- The IMF inaugurated its Fintech Notes series with an exploration of e-money and digital currency.
- Bank of England governor Mark Carney floated the idea of a new digital currency to serve as the global reserve.
All of the above happened within just three months of Libra's reveal.
The astounding pace of new developments in the digital currency and payments space following Libra's reveal means the project as a whole may no longer represent the same value to Libra Association members, and things aren't quite the same as they were initially.
But whatever happens next, it's worth marvelling at the impact Libra has already had. If its mission is to make payments better, Libra is succeeding beyond anyone's wildest dreams – but perhaps not in the way it expected.
Disclosure: The author holds BNB and BTC at the time of writing.