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Defections take the wind out of Libra's crypto-sails

Paul Brislen, Editor. 14 October 2019, 7:24 am

Facebook's first foray into crypto currency, Libra, appears to be if not entirely dead then at least severely wounded, following the withdrawal of a host of key participants.

Payment partners eBay and Stripe joined PayPal in announcing their departure and were quickly followed by credit card giants MasterCard and Visa, reducing Libra's usefulness to a minimum.

"We highly respect the vision of the Libra Association; however, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member," eBay said in a statement to UK tech publication The Register. "At this time, we are focused on rolling out eBay's managed payments experience for our customers."

Similar statements came from PayPal and MasterCard and with South American payment supremo Mercado Pago also bailing on the scheme, Libra's future seems less assured than ever.

Launched with great fanfare in June, Libra would serve as the "foundation for a new payment feature for Facebook Messenger and the Facebook-owned WhatsApp" and would involve the creation of a special arms-length foundation to run the currency in a move designed to reassure privacy rights concerns. 

However, regulators began circling almost immediately. European Union regulators already concerned by Facebook's dominance of the social media space questioned the company's plans and whether or not it would end up shutting out rivals.

With the first official meeting of the Libra founding group scheduled for this week, the departures could well mean the end of Facebook's initiative, at least for this iteration.


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