Facebook reportedly began mulling a revamp of its troubled Libra cryptocurrency project, which could see the play evolve into a traditional payments network, in a bid to appease regulators and regain momentum.
Bloomberg reported Facebook and its partners are considering redesigning the entire project into a system compatible with numerous real currencies, including the dollar, euro and British pound, rather than just cryptocurrencies as originally planned.
Facebook unveiled Libra, mobile wallet Calibra and the group running the project, the Libra Association in June 2019, with the intention to use cryptocurrency in place of traditional money transfers, to slash remittance costs and promote global financial inclusion.
An official launch was scheduled for early 2020, but it quickly became apparent that this was ambitious, as regulators turned the screw.
Authorities in Europe and the US argued digital currencies must be fully investigated before being allowed to launch.
Issues around Libra led to several high-profile backers including Vodafone Group, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe and eBay withdrawing their support.
By opening Libra up to other currencies and cash transactions, Facebook’s initiative would arguably lose its USP. It would become a traditional payments network, akin to existing systems run by PayPal and other fintech players.
However, a Bloomberg source said Facebook still wants to push its vision of a single global currency, which could be incorporated into the revamped project in the future.
In a statement issued to the news outlet, Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association said it had “not altered its goal of building a regulatory compliant payment network”.
“The basic design principles that support that goal have not changed,” he said .Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back