Big tech is not very fond of cryptocurrency – or rather some people’s attitudes about it. Trillion-dollar tech giant Alphabet – or rather its best-known brand Google – has banished countless crypto related apps from its app marketplace. Amazon and other major retailers have yet to implement cryptocurrency payments. There are evangelists supporting the idea of a decentralized currency and there are critics – especially banks – that see it as evil incarnate. This doesn’t stop them from making use of its speed to create stable coins for internal use, though.
One of the most controversial crypto related products was, in turn, proposed by none other than Facebook. Its Libra token and Calibra wallet were meant to be a global online payment tool integrated with its many products, backed by the contributions of the members of the Libra Foundation. This has, in turn, triggered banks all over the world, bashing the company for allegedly trying to create its own sovereign currency.
With all the criticism surrounding it – and some of its backers taking a step back – one might have thought that Facebook gave up its plans for the payment solution. As it turns out, it hasn’t – but the project has been changed, shifting focus away from the token itself, toward becoming a digital payment solution, in general.
A new digital wallet
Instead of going ahead with its proposed token, the Libra Foundation shifted focus to offer a payment solution that will work with government-backed currencies like US Dollars and Euros. This doesn’t mean, of course, that it has given up on its proposed Libra token – the solution will support both, once the token is actually rolled out.
At the same time, Facebook has announced that it will delay the release of its Calibra wallet. Originally slated for release this summer, Calibra will now be launched in October. And, instead of being rolled out worldwide, it will likely be launched only in the territories where the supported currencies are circulating – probably the US and the EURO zone, at first. Calibra’s core money-storing and transfer features will still come both to WhatsApp and Messenger but the timeline of this rollout is not yet clear.
“Reporting that Facebook does not intend to offer the Libra currency in its Calibra wallet is entirely incorrect”, a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge in March. “Facebook remains fully committed to the project”.
The first government-owned Libra Association member
Temasek, a Singapore-based, government-owned investment company, has recently joined the Libra Association. Temasek CEO Chia Song Hwee considers this move an opportunity to contribute towards a “regulated global network for cost-effective retail payments”, an area where the firm sees potential for development. Two other companies have joined the cause: Fred Ehrsam’s Paradigm, and Slow Ventures, both of them based in San Francisco.