The relationship between big tech and cryptocurrency was never unclouded, and the emergence of crypto-mining malware didn’t make it any better. Alphabet, the trillion-dollar company behind Google and countless other projects, banished countless crypto-related apps from its Play Store, and we have yet to see major online retailers accept it as a legitimate payment method. Blockchain, in turn, with its endless versatility, is gaining more and more traction. It is even embraced by banks as a faster and cheaper alternative for their overseas settlements.
Facebook’s Libra was the blockchain project with perhaps the biggest media response. Its disruptive approach to online money transfers has triggered massive scrutiny not only from the banking sector but from governments as well. Ultimately, many of the founders pulled back from the project, leaving it for dead. Facebook, in turn, seems to have other plans in mind for the project.
The part of Libra that enraged everyone was that it was to be a currency in itself, backed by the funds poured into it by the participants at the project. According to a recent report, in turn, Facebook shifted the focus of its upcoming digital payment tool from the Libra token itself to currency, in general, introducing support for government-backed currencies. And, of course, it will add support for Libra when it’s ready to launch.
At the same time, The Libra Foundation has delayed the launch of its Calibra wallet, set to be released this summer, to October, adding the possibility to store fiat currencies and Libra tokens within it. Its availability will likely be restricted to countries using the currencies it supports – for example, it will be available in EU countries within the Euro Zone but not in Romania, which still has its own currency.
Of course, Calibra’s core features will still be integrated with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
A new CEO
In recent news, Libra has announced the hiring of Stuart Levey as its chief executive. Levey was the Chief Legal Officer of British multinational finances company HSBC after serving as the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence for the Bush and Obama administration until 2011.
“One of the things I intend to do when I start at the Libra Association is to review in detail the current plans that are in place . . . for financial crime compliance, and frankly, all of the other critical controls,” Levey told The Financial Times. This appointment is an important step for the Libra Foundation to showcase its independence after being heavily criticized by watchdogs around the world over the potential of its usage for illegal activities.