Libra Confirms 21 Founding Members as Regulatory Pressure Mounts

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Libra hasn’t had the best of times since it was unveiled in June. The cryptocurrency project has, as readers likely well know, has been subject to immense scrutiny from the powers that be, with regulators citing fears of financial stability risk and potential criminal activity to try and discredit Libra.

But, on Monday, the Libra Association — the somewhat decentralized body governing the blockchain (if it launches) — decided to show that it’s still committed to making this project a reality, ratifying the Libra Association charter.

Libra

Libra Has 21 Members

In a press release published on Monday night, the Libra Association confirmed the 21 member companies — seven less than the initial 28 mentioned in initial documentation — that signed the charter.

These companies are as followed: Anchorage, Andreessen Horowitz, Bison Trails Co., Breakthrough Initiatives, Calibra (Facebook’s cryptocurrency subsidiary), Coinbase, Creative Destruction Lab, Farfetch UK, Iliad, Kiva Micorfunds, Lyft, Mercy Corps, PayU, Ribbit Capital, Spotify, Thrive Capital, Uber, Union Square Ventures, Vodafone, Women’s World Banking, and Xapo Holdings.

While there are 21 association members, Libra has appointed a much smaller board of directors, choosing five individuals: Matthew Davie (Kiva Microfunds); Patrick Ellis (PayU); Katie Haun (Andreessen Horowitz); David Marcus (Calibra, Inc.); and Wences Casares (Xapo Holdings Limited).

Calibra’s head, David Marcus, was quick to express his excitement about this positive step forward in the wake of the meeting. He wrote that it was “energizing to see representatives from many industries, and interests” come together to try and accomplish the following mission: “[to] improve access and lower costs to digital money and financial services for everyone.”

Katie Haun, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and one of the new Libra directors, echoed this excitement, asserting that the enablement of a “financial infrastructure that can empower billions of people by making sending money as easy as sending an email” will spark a new round of technological innovation.

Series of Departures

The formal establishment of the Association comes after Facebook has suffered a series of heavy blows. PayPal first left the project around two weeks ago, making headlines across the globe.

Then, last Friday, a number of Libra’s partners pulled their support, with Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay, and MercadoLibre revealing that they didn’t want to move forward with Libra at this time. And on Monday, Booking Holdings — the travel booking giant whose chief executive lauded the benefits of cryptocurrencies just months ago — revealed that it would also be calling it quits.

According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spoke on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday morning, said that if Libra doesn’t meet U.S. anti-money-laundering standards established by FinCEN, it could open up the project to regulatory enforcement. Mnuchin claims it is this fear that Libra isn’t ready to tackle these concerns that led to partners dropping out at the 11th hour.

Indeed, there are valid fears that the cryptocurrency, if it launches at all, won’t have the capacity to deter crime. The G7 said in a draft report revealed to the BBC that global stablecoin-esque cryptocurrencies, including Libra, pose a “host of challenges” to the regulatory community.

The report claimed that if these challenges don’t have proper solutions, regulators will be quick to make sure that the product will not make it to market.

Despite these departures, many want in. In fact, the aforementioned press release mentioned that “over 1,500 entities have indicated interest in joining the Libra project effort.” A purported 180+ of these entities have fit what Libra is looking for in terms of partners.

While the companies/entities that fit into this category were not mentioned, cryptocurrency giants in the Winklevoss Twins’ Gemini and CoinCheck are open to signing the charter.

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