Vodafone is the latest company to quit Facebook’s digital currency project called Libra.
While the project was initially received with enthusiasm, the Libra Association has seen major players bow out in the face of regulatory scrutiny, such as Paypal and Mastercard.
In June 2019, Facebook had announced a launch of the digital currency in partnership with members of the association. Criticism was soon to follow as regulators around the world expressed scepticism.
France’s finance minister went so far as to caution that the notion of Facebook providing digital currency, bypassing national currency, could undermine a country’s sovereignty and limit the ability to use monetary policy when necessary.
A Vodafone spokesperson, as quoted by the BBC, said:
“Vodafone Group has decided to withdraw from the Libra Association. We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion. We remain fully committed to that goal and feel we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on [mobile payments platform] M-Pesa”.
Head of Policy and Communications for the Libra Association commented:
“Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.”
In addition to Vodafone, Paypal and Mastercard, Visa, and eBay had also pulled out of the project. Uber and Lyft continue to form part.
The Libra Facebook page has been active in promoting the benefits of communities in remote and/or poorer regions of the world being able to send, receive and store money, thereby providing them with financial inclusivity and the associated benefits.