The Silicon Valley crypto startup cLabs, focused on mobile payments and the Celo blockchain project, is following another precedent from Facebook’s Libra playbook by launching an industry association through a separate Celo Foundation.
Dozens of blockchain companies and investors – including Libra Association members Coinbase Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Bison Trails and Anchorage – are committing to promote Celo tokens in some fashion by joining this “Alliance for Prosperity.”
“The Alliance will use blockchain technology to reimagine the future of money and create inclusive financial tools,” C Labs founder Rene Reinsberg said in a press statement. “From sending money home across borders to donating to a humanitarian organization, we want to make sure that money arrives in the right hands – not in the pockets of a middleman.”
Chuck Kimble, head of business development at cLabs and now also head of the Alliance for Prosperity, said the idea is for some members to hold Celo Gold tokens or become network validators. The recruitment approach seems to be increasingly commonplace in the industry, an acknowledgment that stablecoins need huge network effects to move the needle on financial inclusion.
“Members have committed to integrating with the Celo platform and enabling the outlined use cases,” Kimble said, referring to cross-border transactions using “accessible” financial tools.
“The Celo Foundation thinks of [decentralized finance] as ‘open finance’ and many of the Alliance members are exploring open finance DeFi use cases like trustless peer-to-peer lending,” Kimble said, adding membership would be fluid as companies are expected to become “more deeply or less involved,” depending on the circumstances.
Even Facebook struggled to define what “official partners” meant when the Libra Association first started. Companies like Visa and Mastercard left the Libra Association within months. There is some precedent for such an alliance among crypto startups. For the smaller Patientory Association, funded by a 2017 token sale and also orchestrated by both a startup and nonprofit, members pay annual dues and participate in workshops related to regulatory standards and technical challenges.
“With the Alliance, we’ll see not just one mobile application for money transfers, but many applications for a variety of financial use cases,” said alliance member and Polychain Capital CEO Olaf Carlson-Wee. “To me, the Alliance proves that Celo is able to not only ship sophisticated, user-friendly products at global scale, but also empower member organizations to ship products on top of the Celo platform.”
From the perspective of members that joined both the Libra Association and the Celo clan, this new alliance may offer a way to hedge.
“We’re proud to work with a variety of organizations to create a more open and inclusive financial system,” said Anchorage President Diogo Monica.