Facebook is known for being global and that is what the platform promised its newest cryptocurrency would be, global. However, recent reports suggest that its digital wallet, Calibra, which is a part of project Libra’s ecosystem, will not be available in some parts of the world.
The social media giant unveiled Calibra along with its Libra cryptocurrency on Tuesday. Calibra’s goal is to provide financial services to its users on top of the Libra blockchain. It is the first product announced by the platform for Libra ecosystem as a digital wallet that stores the Libra cryptocurrency.
Project Libra was touted as the torchbearer for financial inclusion, to “bank the unbanked” across the globe. But it seems to be falling short on that promise as a fairly large group of people won’t be able to use Facebook’s new digital payment service. According to the report:
The Libra blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate. Calibra won’t be available in U.S.-sanctioned countries or countries that ban cryptocurrencies.
Some of the countries under the aforementioned categories happen to be the social network’s largest markets, including India. As per the estimates by Statista, as of April this year, there were 260 million Facebook users hailing from India, thus making it Facebook’s biggest market, way ahead of the United States which is the platform’s second largest market.
India isn’t one of the U.S. sanctioned countries but it has a pretty strict outlook towards cryptocurrencies in general. In fact, only earlier this month, Indian lawmakers proposed tougher new regulations which could land citizens in jail for up to 10 years for mining, holding, selling, transferring, disposing, issuing, or dealing in cryptocurrencies.
Moreover, the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, made it clear to the Supreme Court of India that it did not want cryptocurrency to spread like a “contagion”. The country’s central bank literally referred to cryptocurrency as nothing more than an infection, safe to say that the country is not crypto friendly in the least.
Furthermore, according to Facebook, the wallet is going to be available in two of its applications: Messenger and WhatsApp. However, Calibra’s availability on the latter unleashed confusion in India particularly as the messaging app already offers a peer-to-peer payment service in the nation, which is referred as WhatsApp Pay but India is the only country where this feature is offered. In addition to that, the Calibra wallet will also be available through a standalone app as well.
Facebook’s project Libra aimed to reach the unbanked population in order to offer them financial services. However, under the current circumstances, it seems that Libra won’t reach India which is home to the second-largest unbanked population in the world.
Other countries that will be missing out on the social network’s cryptocurrency include China, North Korea and Iran. But Facebook doesn’t have presence in either of them as yet, which doesn’t make as much of difference for Facebook as in the case of India where it is missing out on 260 million potential users Libra through no fault of its own.
Facebook’s stablecoin, which is backed by the likes of Mastercard, Uber and Coinbase, is set for a release in the first half of next year. Despite the release date being distant, the project is already facing some resistance from a few players.
In fact even its second biggest market, the United States has some reservations. Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the United States House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee, requested Facebook to halt the development of its cryptocurrency over Twitter on June 18. Her statement read:
Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action
The statement came on the same day that Facebook released it official whitepaper for Project Libra. However, the implications of the statement remain rather unclear for the crypto project.
Additionally, Facebook’s crypto project is also getting some attention from Russia, and not the good kind. According to reports, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Financial Market, Anatoly Aksakov, has said that the platform’s forthcoming cryptocurrency would not be legalized in Russia.
Reports suggest that Aksakov believes it may pose a threat to the financial system of the country. He further stressed that Russia has no plans to adopt legislation “which provides space for the active use of crypto tools created in the framework of open platforms, blockchains”.