Sunday , July 5, 2020

A Crucial Meeting of 21 Remaining Libra Backers Elects a Board And Appoints Executives

In the face of multiple defections so far, Facebook Inc.’s controversial cryptocurrency project scored a victory of sorts Monday when 21 remaining backers officially signed on at a crucial meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

In a busy day, the companies making up the Libra Association signed on to the project’s charter, officially established its council, elected a five-member board of directors, and named its executive roster, according to an announcement released late Monday by the association.

As previously reported by Digital Transactions News, the association also confirmed that more than 1,500 organizations have expressed interest in joining the association. Of these, “approximately 180 entities have met the preliminary membership criteria,” the association’s announcement said.

The board elected Monday includes Matthew Davie of Kiva Microfunds, Patrick Ellis of PayU, Katie Haun of Andreesen Horowitz, David Marcus of Calibra Inc., and Wences Casares of Xapo Holdings Ltd. The persons named as executives for the effort include Bertrand Perez as chief operating officer, Kurt Honecker as head of business development, and Dante Disparte as head of policy and communications. The 21 supporting companies comprise the association’s council.

Monday’s developments follow a week in which some seven companies that had signed on in June to support Libra withdrew their backing in the face of withering criticism of the cryptocurrency project from lawmakers, regulators, and central bank officials in both the United States and Europe. These include four payments companies, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe, and Visa. Backers have committed to put up at least $10 million to support Libra.

A fifth payments company, PayU, remains behind the effort. “The mission of the Association, to enable a simple global payment system and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people, aligns seamlessly with PayU’s vision of creating a world without financial borders where everyone can prosper,” the company said as part of a lengthy statement issued after the meeting.

Xapo, a creator of cryptocurrency vaults, added as part of its statement, “Xapo is committed to the mission of the Association in enabling people worldwide to send, receive, and store value, especially in developing countries.” Xapo’s Casares is well-known in the payments industry for his current role but also as a founder of Bling Nation Ltd., which offered closed-loop contactless-payments networks for small banks. Payments relied on RFID tags that could be affixed to users’ cell phones. That venture closed its doors in 2011. Xapo generated much publicity in 2015 when it added former Visa CEO Dee Hock, former Citicorp CEO John Reed, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to its advisory board.

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