Facebook Officially Launches Libra Despite High-Profile Departures


Libra, the highly-scrutinized planned cryptocurrency led by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), officially launched in Geneva yesterday despite several high-profile defections from the project last week.

Libra Launches With 21 Chartered Members

The Libra Association, the non-profit governing body of the digital currency, officially signed on 21 charter members at a meeting at its Swiss headquarters. The association was originally made up of 27 members; however, the high level of regulatory scrutiny leveled at the project led to several prominent defections in recent weeks. These include Visa (NYSE:V), PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), and Mastercard (NYSE:MA), which all jumped ship last week as it emerged that Mark Zuckerberg would defend his plans to launch Libra before a Congressional committee.

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Libra also named its board of directors and formalized the association’s executive team in Geneva. David Marcus, Calibra CEO and former head of Facebook’s blockchain activities, will take a seat on the five-person board. Joining him will be Katie Haun, a general partner with Andreessen Horowitz; Wences Cesares, CEO of Xapo; Patrick Ellis, general counsel at PayU; and Matthew Davie, chief strategy officer of Kiva. Notable companies making up the 21 chartered members include Spotify, Uber, Vodafone, and several prominent investment firms.

High-Profile Defections

Despite the high-profile defections and intense regulatory resistance to the project, The Libra Association has said that more than 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in signing up, with 180 of them meeting the requirements to do so. In order for new members to join the association, a two-thirds vote is required by the current group of 21. The Libra Association was initially meant to consist of 100 companies; however, no further update on that figure has been provided, nor has an official launch date.

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Regulatory Resistance

Should Libra ever come to fruition, it will be a stablecoin backed by a basket of fiat currencies including the US dollar (50%), the euro (18%), the yen (14%), the British pound (11%), and the Singapore dollar (7%). However, regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have been highly opposed to the plans, with France’s finance minister saying he will block any attempts to develop the coin in Europe, while members of the Federal Advisory Council in the US described the project as a “monetary threat.”

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