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This article was published on October 1, 2019

3 things the leaked Zuckerberg tapes taught us about Facebook’s Libra ‘cryptocurrency’

Welp, Libra ain't going anywhere

3 things the leaked Zuckerberg tapes taught us about Facebook’s Libra ‘cryptocurrency’
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Since it was announced earlier this year, Facebook’s “cryptocurrency” Libra has been dragged over the coals many times. And now it seems staff at the Big F are also apprehensive about its launch.

Internal interviews between Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook employees were leaked today, by The Verge, and appear to show unease amongst the ranks. Zuck called for staff to rally together against skeptics, critics, and the regulators.

But what about Libra? Indeed, staff made Facebook’s plans for a digital currency a point of contention asking Zuck for more information. Here’re three things we learned about Libra from the leaked interviews.

1. Libra might launch without a token

“…we want to work with traditional currencies. So we have a test going in India. We’re working in Mexico and a bunch of other countries to have this rolled out broadly. The hope is to get that rolled out in a lot of places with existing currencies before the end of this year,” Zuckerberg said to employees.

“And we have this bigger, or at least more exotic, project around Libra, which is to try to stand up a new kind of digital money that can work globally,” he added.

Libra has come under a lot of scrutiny since it was announced back in July, much of which has assumed it would launch as a token. With this statement it sounds like Libra is two things: a money transfer business and a digital currency. But, according to Zuck, some of us might get part of Libra before the end of the year, but it won’t have the Libra token, that’ll come later.

TNW has contacted Facebook in India to learn more about the test Zuckerberg mentioned, we will update this piece if we learn more.

2. Libra was announced way too early, on purpose

“But part of what we’re trying to do overall on these big projects now that touch very socially important aspects of society is have a more consultative approach,” Zuckerberg said. “So not just show up and say, ‘Alright, here we’re launching this. Here’s a product, your app got updated, now you can start buying Libras and sending them around.'”

Indeed, it sounds like Facebook is actually trying to act responsibly – we can decide if that’s true later. According to Zuck at least, it seems that Libra was announced way ahead of launch on purpose. Letting the project undergo the intense scrutiny that it has and continues to go through, was all part of the plan.

“This is going to be a long road. We kind of expected this,” Zuckerberg told employees.

3. Launching Libra is going to be easy compared to other upcoming Facebook products

Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t “be surprised if [Facebook] ends up having similar engagements like this on other socially important things that [it’s] trying to move, like [its] big push to get towards more encryption across [its] messaging apps.”

Indeed, when the conversation turned to brain-computer interfaces, which Facebook has been working on for a number of years now, Libra cropped up again.

“We’re trying to make AR and VR a big thing in the next five years to 10 years… I don’t know, you think Libra is hard to launch. ‘Facebook wants to perform brain surgery,’ I don’t want to see the congressional hearings on that one,” the Facebook CEO said, and I agree with him.

With that in mind, it sounds like Facebook is taking all this Libra regulatory kerfuffle in its stride. If Facebook’s resolve is as steely as Zuck makes it sound, it seems Libra isn’t going away any time soon, even if we do keep asking it to stop.

If you’re enjoying watching Facebook get grilled on an almost daily basis, it sounds like there’s going to be plenty more opportunities to grab the popcorn in the future.

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