Facebook’s Libra consortium is meeting today after exodus of key backers


A visual representation of a cryptocurrency coin on display in front of the logos for Facebook and Libra.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Facebook’s plan to introduce a cryptocurrency will face a key test Monday as the consortium of companies overseeing it gathers in Geneva.

The now 22-member Libra Association is meeting in the Swiss city to review a charter that dictates the structure of the organization and to appoint a board of directors.

It was originally made up of 28 so-called “founding members” which would have invested $10 million each into the libra cryptocurrency to gain membership and associated voting rights.

But the coalition has been faced with something of an exodus of late with six key backers — Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, eBay, Stripe and Mercado Pago — all abandoning the project amid mounting regulatory fears. Facebook could however find comfort in the fact that IBM has said it’s open to working with libra.

Facebook deferred to the Libra Association when contacted by CNBC for comment. A spokesperson for the Libra Association was not immediately available.

The libra cryptocurrency would be backed by a basket of currencies like the dollar, and is designed to be used in cross-border payments. But it’s been faced with a backlash from global lawmakers and central banks over concerns it could heavily disrupt the financial system.

European heavyweights France and Germany last month threatened to block libra from the EU, while U.S. lawmakers grilled David Marcus, the executive leading Facebook’s blockchain initiative, back in July. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is due to face Congress to answer questions on libra next week.

Meanwhile, central bankers around the world have also issued warnings to Facebook over its digital currency ambitions. European Central Bank official Benoit Coeure has said the bar for approval of digital assets like libra “will be high,” while Bank of England Governor Mark Carney earlier this year said that libra would be met with the “highest standards of regulations.”

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