Facebook’s Zuckerberg Appears to Put Libra Launch Date in Doubt
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has refused to commit to the planned 2020 launch for the Libra cryptocurrency project.
Talking in interview with Nikkei on Thursday, Zuckerberg was asked about the expected date of the stablecoin’s arrival, to which he replied:
“Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out,” he said. “But right now I’m really focused on making sure that we do this well.”
Since the launch of Libra’s white paper in June, regulators worldwide have been strident in their objections to the project, saying it poses not only a risk to financial stability and could be used in financial crimes, but it’s also a threat to sovereign currencies. Notably, lawmakers in the U.S. and France have called for the project to be halted.
The Libra project had appeared to have been sticking to its guns on the 2020 target, with Libra Association managing director and COO Bertrand Perez saying in mid September that “We are firmly maintaining our launch schedule, between the end of the first half of the year and the end of 2020.”
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is now taking a more cautious approach when bringing forward projects like Libra that are ” very sensitive for society,” allowing a period for consultation and “working through the issues.”
“That’s a very different approach than what we might have taken five years ago,” he said.
CoinDesk has reached out to the Libra Association, the non-profit set up to manage and develop the cryptocurrency, to ask if its plans had changed regarding the launch schedule. We will update this article if and when a reply is received.
In related news, David Marcus, CEO of Calibra (the entity building a digital wallet for the project), has been making the case for Libra as an improvement on traditional payment systems.
In a Medium post Wednesday, he wrote that Libra would be a “game-changer” for the public, arguing that “existing ‘money networks’ are closed and are not well interconnected.”
They’re also outdated, he said, explaining:
“Some of these systems were built in the 1960s and 70s, and while they’ve received upgrades since then, they often live on top of legacy, fragmented infrastructure.”
The need for intermediaries in traditional methods of payment also “means delays, and added cost at every step of the way,” Marcus added.
Libra, on the other hand, will enable value to be moved around the world at in “near real-time” and at “an incredibly low cost.”
Marcus further set out his big dream for Libra, saying:
“Just like SMTP allowed any email provider to interoperate with other email providers, Libra can be the ‘protocol’ that will enable fast, cheap, and stable money movement across service providers, institutions, and people all around the world.”
This, he claimed, would reduce the costs of running payments systems, doing away with intermediaries and reducing “operational complexity and overhead.” It would also make it easier for people to send and receive money and lower the “barrier of access to modern digital money and financial services.”
Mark Zuckerberg image via Shutterstock