This article was published on January 22, 2020

Vodafone ditches Facebook’s ‘cryptocurrency’ to focus on M-Pesa

Eight companies have left the Libra Association

Vodafone ditches Facebook’s ‘cryptocurrency’ to focus on M-Pesa
David Canellis
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David Canellis

David is a tech journalist who loves old-school adventure games, techno and the Beastie Boys. He's currently on the finance beat. David is a tech journalist who loves old-school adventure games, techno and the Beastie Boys. He's currently on the finance beat.

Vodafone has bailed on Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, Libra, to focus on expanding its own solution for faster cross-border payments beyond Africa.

The telecommunications giant is the latest in a string of companies to have left the Libra Association, alongside Mastercard, Visa, Stripe, and Ebay, CoinDesk reports.

[Read: Facebook’s Libra ‘cryptocurrency’ is turning into a soap opera — and it’s gonna be a long season]

Libra, a stablecoin-esque digital currency first revealed in mid-2019, has faced an onslaught of criticism from regulators worldwide, who’ve shared concerns its success could destabilize world economies by undermining the Euro.

Vodafone would rather spend resources on M-Pesa (not a crypto)

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In response to the news, Vodafone said it was still “fully committed” to making a “genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion,” but it seems it just won’t be through a cryptocurrency.

A Vodafone spokesperson told reporters it believes it can assist the world’s poor by focusing on M-Pesa, a money platform for smartphones with a pronounced presence in developing economies across Africa, particularly Kenya.

M-Pesa, launched in 2007, currently boasts more than 30 million users across 10 countries. The service also reportedly processed 6 billion transactions in 2016 alone.

The app has no exposure to cryptocurrency, and operates more within the traditional finance system.

Can Facebook launch Libra on time?

Facebook originally planned to release Libra in the first half of 2020, but execs have since maintained the social media mainstay would only do so once all regulatory considerations have been addressed.

It was that same red tape that pushed Mastercard and Visa to part ways with the Libra Foundation, months before the Swiss finance minister would say the country isn’t likely to approve Libra as it is right now.

This has obviously left Zuckerberg and co. in a tight spot. As all this plays out, a raft of European central banks joined forces to better explore the use cases of central bank digital currencies, spurred on by corporate ‘cryptocurrencies’ like Libra.

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