Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Faces Exodus of Partners – The New York Times

Facebook’s troubled cryptocurrency initiative, Libra, suffered new blows on Friday as the departures of key partners became an exodus.

Stripe, Mastercard, Visa and eBay said they were all pulling out of Libra, a week after PayPal became the first company to drop out. While they continue to support the idea of Libra, they said, they will no longer be part of a coalition of partners that was backing the effort.

“EBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member,” a company spokesman said. Mastercard said it was focused on its own strategy “and our own significant efforts to enable financial inclusion around the world,” and Visa said its future participation would depend, in part, on Libra’s “ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”

A spokesman for Stripe said, “We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage.”

Libra has been met with doubts and questions almost from the moment that Facebook unveiled the effort in June.

At the time, the social network positioned Libra as the potential foundation for a new financial system that would not be directed by today’s power brokers on Wall Street or central banks. As part of that, Facebook said, it had more than 27 corporate partners — including PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and companies like Uber — that had pledged to support the project. The partners are key because Facebook said Libra would not be controlled by the social network but by a broad network of corporate partners.

Yet many world leaders, regulators and central bankers immediately criticized Libra and the idea of an unregulated currency. And they have questioned whether Facebook, which is grappling with numerous regulatory issues around privacy and antitrust, should be heading up such an initiative.

Lawmakers asked David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading Libra, to testify in Congress early this year about the plans. And Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing about Libra on Oct. 23.

Last week, PayPal, the electronic payments company that Mr. Marcus used to lead, said it would leave the Libra initiative so it could instead “continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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