UPDATE (Oct. 11, 2019, 20:27 UTC): Mastercard and Visa have also confirmed they will not be joining the Libra Association.
UPDATE (Oct. 11, 2019, 22:57 UTC): Payments platform Mercado Pago confirmed to CoinDesk that it, too, would “suspend its participation” in the Libra Association.
UPDATE (Oct. 14, 2019, 15:45 UTC): Booking Holdings has become the seventh company to withdraw from the Libra Association.
Mastercard, Visa, digital auction company eBay, payments firm Stripe and Mercado Pago have all pulled out of the Facebook-led Libra Association.
The Financial Times reported Friday that eBay and Stripe dropped out of the Libra cryptocurrency project, citing political pressure, following PayPal, which pulled its own support of the project earlier this week. A Mastercard spokesperson confirmed to CoinDesk that the company will be withdrawing as well.
In a statement, the Mastercard spokesperson said:
“Mastercard has decided it will not become a member of the Libra Association at this time. We remain focused on our strategy and our own significant efforts to enable financial inclusion around the world. We believe there are potential benefits in such initiatives and will continue to monitor the Libra effort.”
Likewise, a Visa spokesperson told CoinDesk, “Visa has decided not to join the Libra Association at this time. We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations. Visa’s continued interest in Libra stems from our belief that well-regulated blockchain-based networks could extend the value of secure digital payments to a greater number of people and places, particularly in emerging and developing markets.”
An eBay spokesperson told the FT that while the company respects the Libra Association’s vision, it was instead choosing to focus on releasing a “managed payments experience” for its customers.
A Stripe spokesperson confirmed their company’s withdrawal as well, saying “Stripe is supportive of projects that aim to make online commerce more accessible for people around the world. Libra has this potential. We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage.”
A spokesperson for Mercado Pago said the company will re-evaluate Libra after there is “greater clarity” around the project.
Booking Holdings withdrew on Monday, according to Bloomberg.
The Libra Association is scheduled to have its first official meeting next week, where the remaining 23 members – which include both Facebook and its subsidiary Calibra – are supposed to sign the group’s charter. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed Friday that the meeting is still taking place as planned.
While the original 28 members of the Libra Association were revealed with the cryptocurrency project’s initial announcement, the members only signed non-binding letters of intent.
Non-profits Kiva and Mercy Corps, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), crypto custodian Anchorage, Bison Trails and wallet provider Xapo all confirmed to CoinDesk Friday their intent to stay in the Libra Association.
Facebook unveiled its vision for Libra in June 2019, announcing an ambitious project aimed at providing banking services to more than 1 billion individuals who currently lack access.
However, the project saw immediate pushback from lawmakers worldwide, with German and French officials vowing to block its launch and U.S. Representative Maxine Waters calling for a moratorium on development until the project’s regulatory hurdles are cleared.
Most recently, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Sherrod Brown wrote identical letters to Stripe, Visa and Mastercard, warning of the “chilling” effects Libra could have on the global financial system and hinting that participation in the project may result in increased regulatory scrutiny of their own businesses.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services Committee, which Rep. Waters chairs, later this month.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg image via Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock