Facebook Inc, facing growing skepticism about its digital currency project Libra, on Sunday said that the initiative could use cryptocurrencies based on national currencies such as the US dollar, instead of the synthetic one it initially proposed.
David Marcus, who heads the Libra project for Facebook, told a banking seminar that the group’s main goal remained to create a more efficient payments system, but it was open to looking at alternative approaches for the currency token it would use.
“We could do it differently,” Marcus said.
“Instead of having a synthetic unit ... we could have a series of stablecoins, a [US] dollar stablecoin, a euro stablecoin, a sterling pound stablecoin, etc,” Marcus told the panel.
“We could definitely approach this with having a multitude of stablecoins that represent national currencies in a tokenized digital form,” he said. “That is one of the options that should be considered.”
Marcus said he was not suggesting currency-pegged stablecoins were the group’s new preferred option.
“What we care about is the mission and there are a number ways to go about this,” Marcus told reporters after the panel, adding that the Libra needed to “demonstrate a lot of agility.”
The Facebook-led project suffered severe setbacks earlier this month, as major payment companies Mastercard Inc and Visa Inc became the latest partners to quit the group behind the project.
Other key members that have pulled out include Stripe Inc, eBay Inc and Booking Holdings Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc.
Global policymakers and regulators have also said that the creation of a new synthetic global currency could upend the global financial system, threaten users’ privacy and facilitate money laundering.
G20 finance leaders on Friday agreed to set strict rules on cryptocurrencies and said stablecoins should not be issued until various global risks were addressed.
Marcus said that Facebook was still aiming for a launch of Libra in June next year, but acknowledged it could miss that target due to regulatory hurdles.
“We’ll see. That’s still the goal,” Marcus said when asked if the recent departure of several major partners from the project would delay the launch.
“We’ve always said that we wouldn’t go forward unless we have addressed all legitimate concerns and get proper regulatory approval. So it’s not entirely up to us,” he said.
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