Faltering Libra project is losing more traction

FACEBOOK’S Libra currency project appears to be close to dead in the water, with five major payments providers pulling out.

The founding companies in the Libra Association — 21 of them, down from an initial 28 — met recently in Geneva to discuss the abortive cryptocurrency launch, still planned for next year.

If regulatory approval is granted, that is. The G7 group of nations has also expressed fears that Libra will disrupt the “global financial order”.

US senators Brian Schatz and Sherrod Brown wrote to payment providers, promising a “high level of scrutiny” from regulators. Libra Association spokesman Dante Disparte said the reaction stifled private market innovation.

Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay, PayPal, Mercado Pago and Booking Holdings (Booking.com) have all dropped out. Those still committed include rideshare firms Uber and Lyft, venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, Spotify, PayU and Vodafone.

Five of the firms and Facebook’s David Marcus will form the Libra Association board. Bertrand Perez, a former PayPal executive, has been appointed COO and interim managing director. A permanent chief executive is expected to be elected soon.

More than 1,500 organisations are interested in joining this Libra project, according to news reports quoting Disparte.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to appear before a congressional panel in the near future.