Facebook officially launches Libra
Facewbook on Monday announced the Libra Association, a nonprofit group that will govern the digital currency.
AP’s Ken Sweet reported the news:
Facebook officially moved forward with its plans Monday to create a new digital currency called Libra, despite several high-profile defections from the project and intense criticism from U.S. regulators and politicians.
The Libra Association, the nonprofit that will govern the currency, officially signed on 21 charter members on Monday at the organization’s inaugural meeting in Geneva. Originally the Libra Association had 27 potential members, but several companies dropped out in recent days, including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.
Most of the remaining members of the Libra Association consist of venture capital firms, who often have an eye on emerging technologies and align with Facebook’s interests, as well as nonprofits. But some larger companies who are now members of the association include Uber, Lyft, Spotify and European telecommunications company Vodafone. The association said in a statement that an unnamed additional 180 entities have expressed interest and have met the initial requirements to join.
Facebook has faced criticism since the summer when it unveiled plans to create a separate, private currency system to allow users to make cross-border payments more easily. Politicians have said they believe Facebook’s struggles with protecting users’ privacy would spill over into Libra, despite it being a separate organization.
Lauren Feiner from CNBC noted:
The members, including Uber, Lyft and Spotify, met in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday to sign onto the Libra Association charter, which will govern the libra cryptocurrency. The board of directors will consist of five people, including David Marcus, Facebook’s leader for the project, and representatives from Andreessen Horowitz, PayU, Kiva Microfunds and Xapo Holdings.
The project hit a major snag on Friday, when Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay and Mercado Pago all said they will no longer be part of the Libra project, following PayPal’s decision to pull out earlier last week, and leaving PayU as the only remaining payments company on the council. Support dwindled further on Monday, with the departure of internet company Booking, which operates sites including Booking.com, OpenTable and Kayak.
“Though it is still in the early stages, we look forward to exploring the opportunity offered by the Libra Association to empower billions of people globally, especially in financially underserved markets,” Spotify said in a statement.
According to the council’s interim articles, each member has one vote and is expected to recuse itself if there’s a conflict of interest. A two-thirds vote of the council is required to admit or oust a member of the council or board, adopt a new amendment of the articles or a key libra policy or dissolve the association.
Josh Constine reported for TechCrunch that:
Attempting to signal its popularity despite high-profile defections from Visa, Stripe and more, the Facebook-led cryptocurrency Libra Association announced that 1,500 organizations have expressed interest in joining the Libra project — 180 of those meet eligibility requirements to become members, which could replace the seven companies that dropped out of the Association this month, including Kayak owner Bookings Holdings today.
This new crop of potential recruits could help the Libra Association reach its 100-member goal ahead of a scheduled 2020 launch that looks likely to be delayed by intense regulator pushback.
The group appointed its board of directors: Facebook’s head of its cryptocurrency Calibra team David Marcus, Andreessen Horowitz’s Katie Haun, Xapo’s Wences Casares, Kiva Microfunds’ Matthew Davie and PayU’s Patrick Ellis. Marcus’ inclusion should be no surprise, given he’s been the public face of Libra, even though his former company PayPal pulled out of the Association. Marcus writes that he’s “honored to have been voted in.”