Facebook-led digital currency Libra could launch in January - Banking Dive

Facebook-led digital currency Libra could launch in January

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Dive Brief:

  • The Facebook-back digital currency Libra could launch as early as January, although in a scaled-down format, according to a report by the Financial Times.
  • The Libra Association, a 27-member consortium created by the social media giant, announced in April it planned to launch digital versions of several currencies. However, a source told the Financial Times on Friday the association plans to launch a single dollar-backed coin in January. Other currencies, as well as a “digital composite” of all its coins, could come at a later date.
  • The timing of the launch depends on when the project receives regulatory approval from Finma, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, sources said. The agency did not comment on Libra’s application, which was initiated in May.

Dive Insight:

Facebook’s Libra wallet, which has been rebranded Novi, is also expected to launch around the same time as Libra, a source told the Financial Times.

Novi told the publication the wallet was “ready from a product perspective” but would be rolled out gradually — first in the U.S. and parts of Latin America, among “half a dozen high-volume remittance corridors.”

Novi still needs “as many as 10” state licenses, including New York’s BitLicense, the Financial Times reported.

Since Facebook first launched the Libra project in June 2019, the initiative has faced pushback from government officials in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a series of high-profile partner exits.

Toward the end of last year, Sens. Brian Schatz, D-HI, and Sherrod Brown, D-OH, sent letters to several Libra Association members, calling out the risks presented by Libra with regard to money laundering and terrorism financing.

The European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, expressed concern that the currency could create a new, separate economy. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, urged the continent last year to block the currency and create a public alternative.

Several companies, such as PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Mastercard and Visa, citing intense regulatory scrutiny, dropped out of the Libra Association in October 2019, just ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee to discuss his company’s impact on financial services and housing.

The Libra Association scaled back its vision for the crypto project in April in response to regulators’ concerns.

Credit: Source

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