It is looking unlikely that Facebook will get the regulatory approval needed to launch its controversial cryptocurrency, Libra, next year.
Since the social media giant revealed its plans for Libra earlier this year, politicians, officials and regulators have all expressed concerns about the project, and how it can lead to financial instability, as well as be used for money laundering. As a result, many of the companies that signed up as founding members have jumped ship, with Booking.com the latest firm to pull out — following PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Mastercard, Visa and Mercado Pago.
“Even though we may be ready with the technology, the regulatory piece is the bit that carries the most uncertainty. We need to make sure we pursue the right licensing approvals, and that is the part that may not be ready in time,” said Dante Disparte, Libra’s head of policy and communications, according to the Financial Times.
He added, “Our commitment is that the project will not launch until such time as it has met all the necessary regulatory approvals on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Some current and former Libra members have urged Facebook to scale back on the prominent role it has played in the project, suggesting that the high profile of the social media company brought increased scrutiny and skepticism from regulators.
In the meantime, the remaining 21 Libra cryptocurrency members met for the first time in Geneva this week to elect a five-person board, which includes David Marcus, the Facebook executive who co-created Libra; Katie Haun, a former federal prosecutor and partner at Andreessen Horowitz; Matthew Davie, chief strategy officer at nonprofit Kiva; Wences Casares, chief executive of digital wallet provider Xapo; and Patrick Ellis, general counsel at PayU.
Facebook is sending out assurances that it will be one of the 21 members, all sharing equal voting rights. “Each member will have the same kind of power and privilege as all the others — including Facebook,” said Disparte.