Facebook sent the world into a frenzy when it announced its intention to enter the payments space with the launch of its controversial ‘cryptocurrency‘ Libra earlier this year.
Initially, Facebook said it had garnered support from 28 companies, including some of the world’s top financial and technology giants.
But, as soon as regulators and central banks caught wind of Facebook‘s plans they began to issue warnings and air concerns about Libra‘s potential effect on the world’s financial system; spooking several of the company‘s backers along the way.
Four months on, and after losing many of its original supporters, Facebook finally managed to get 21, out of the original 28, organizations to sign the Libra Association charter.
Hard Fork has put together a quick overview of every organization that’s still involved and those who have (understandably!) ran a mile, because, let’s face it, it’s hard to keep track.
Rumors about uneasiness among Facebook‘s Libra supporters have mounted for some time, but confirmation about a series of high-profile departures finally arrived over the past few weeks.
PayPal’s announcement as one of Libra‘s initial backers failed to raise many eyebrows, given that that David Marcus, Libra‘s managing director and COO, used to be president at the online payment system.
However, the multinational company became the first company to leave Libra when it announced its withdrawal earlier this month.
PayPal didn’t specify why it had decided to part ways, but said in a statement that it taken ” the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations.”
Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago
Following increasing political pressure and just days before the project‘s supporters were due to meet in Geneva, to sign the charter, Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago pulled out.
“We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations,” a Visa company spokesperson said last Friday.
“Visa’s continued interest in Libra stems from our belief that well-regulated blockchain-based networks could extend the value of secure digital payments to a greater number of people and places, particularly in emerging and developing markets,” they added.
An eBay spokesperson told the Financial Times (FT) that it had made the decision in order to “[focus] on rolling out eBay’s managed payments experience for our customers”.
FinTech giant Stripe said that in spite of its exit it still believed Libra had “potential” to “make online commerce more accessible for people around the world” and remained open to working with the project “at a later stage”.
Two people familiar with the decisions tod the FT Mastercard and Mercado Pago had also quit.
Online travel company Booking Holdings Inc., which runs websites including Kayak.com and Priceline.com, has also left the ‘cryptocurrency’ project spearheaded by Facebook.
Who’s still in it to win it?
The blockchain band
The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry is being represented by Anchorage, a firm seeking to advance institutional participation in the digital asset class; Bison Trails, a blockchain infrastructure provider; cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, and bitcoin wallet and storage provider Xapo.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook‘s subsidiary Calibra, which will oversee the giant’s cryptocurrency plans – including the creation of a blockchain-based digital wallet – is staying put despite recently being sued by another mobile banking app for using a very similar logo.
The venture capitalists
Although Facebook‘s Libra is not out of the woods yet, it can (at least for now!) count on the support of heavyweights from the venture capital world.
Andreessen Horowitz, an investor in Facebook; Ribbit Capital, which has backed Coinbase and Xapo; and Union Square Ventures, an investor in Coinbase and Stripe, are all supporting the project.
Thrive Capital, which backs media and technology companies; and Breakthrough Initiatives, are also remaining loyal.
The multinational telecoms experts
Vodafone, which recently repledged its support for the project so long as it operated independently of Facebook, is still involved.
Iliad, a French provider of telecommunication services, also remains a partner.
The non-profits and academics
Creative Destruction Lab, one of the original backers, is a not-for-profit startup program that combines computer science and economic design. It supports startups building new infrastructure and applications using blockchain technologies via a dedicated Blockchain stream and has also signed the charter.
Fellow founding member Kiva, which crowdfunds loans for the underserved and seeks to improve financial barriers across the world, is also sticking around. So is Mercy Corps, a humanitarian organization helping people to recover from a crisis.
Women’s World Banking, focused on low-income women and helping them gain access to financial markets, is also remaining involved.
The luxury fashionistas
Another founding member is Farfetch Limited, a well-known luxury fashion platform set up in the United Kingdom.
When it announced its support, the company said that it had long been interested in blockchain, noting how it had been researching potential applications of the technology.
The music streaming giant
Spotify, which also pledged its support when the project was first announced, is in.
“Libra offers a massive opportunity for simple, convenient, and safe payment over the internet (particularly for the 1.7 billion adults worldwide without access to mobile money, a bank account, or a payment card,” it said in its original statement.
The transport disrupters
Uber and Lyft, both founding members, will be sticking around to help with the launch of Libra.
The solo payments star
PayU was joined by Mastercard, Paypal, Stripe, and Visa in this category, but is now flying solo.
The Dutch online payment service provider (also Naspers’ fintech arm!) is also a founding partner and will be staying put.
Where we are now
Compliance issues, which have hit payment firms particularly hard, still remain and even though Facebook may perceive the signing of the membership charter to be a roaring success, Libra‘s true tests still lay ahead.
At least Facebook has finally formalized a group seemingly working towards the same objective, though.
Want more Hard Fork? Join us in Amsterdam on October 15-17 to discuss blockchain and cryptocurrency with leading experts.
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