Vodafone has withdrawn from the organisation overseeing Facebook’s efforts to launch its Libra digital currency, making it the latest in a string of big companies to abandon the project.
Facebook’s Libra project has faced intense scrutiny from regulators and politicians across the world over the social media giant’s plans for the launch of the stablecoin — a digital currency backed by a basket of real-world assets.
The British telecoms operator is the eighth firm to quit the Libra Association, following Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, Ebay, Booking Holdings, Stripe and Mercado Pago.
Just 20 of the 27 original members of the Libra Association, which was formed in October last year, now remain. Both Mastercard and Visa cited regulatory uncertainty among their reasons for quitting the project.
A Vodafone spokesperson confirmed the company had left the consortium, and said it wanted to focus on developing its mobile payments service, M-Pesa.
“We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion,” said a spokesperson.
“We remain fully committed to that goal and feel that we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on M-Pesa.”
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The spokesperson said Vodafone would “continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association”, and would not “rule out the possibility of future cooperation”.
The departure of several members of the Libra Association has damaged Facebook’s efforts to present the planned digital currency as an independently-managed project, rather than one run by the social media giant alone.
“We can confirm that Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association,” said Libra head of policy and communications Dante Disparte.
“Although the makeup of the association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient,” he said.
“The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”
Although Libra was originally scheduled to launch in the first half of 2020, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg refused to commit to the timeline in September, and said regulatory concerns could delay the launch of the stablecoin.