Facebook stunned the world last summer when the social media giant unveiled plans for the Libra stablecoin project, a “new global payment system.” Now the firebrand effort has a new lead, and the executive comes courtesy of one of the world’s most high-profile banks.
On Wednesday, May 6th, the Libra Association, the governing body of the Libra stablecoin, announced HSBC chief legal officer Stuart was coming aboard as the association’s CEO.
Levey steps into the role with no shortage of experience, as he helped steer powerhouse British bank HSBC, one of the most prolific banks in the world. Prior to his time there, Levey has also notably served within the U.S. Department of the Treasury during President George W. Bush’s administration.
Levey, who will join the Libra Association in the coming months, said on the news that the Libra project could transform the world’s payments system, adding:
“Technology provides us with the opportunity to make it easier for individuals and businesses to send and receive money, and to empower more than a billion people who have been left on the sidelines of the financial system, all with robust controls to detect and deter illicit financial activity. I look forward to working closely with governments, regulators, and all of our stakeholders to realize this vision.”
A Period of Change
Levey’s arrival at the Libra Association comes after the Libra project has been in flux in recent times. And some of the most high-profile early changes around the initiative has come with regard to its backers.
Having room for some +100 members, the Libra Association originally launched with over 20 supporting organizations. However, it didn’t take long for financial regulators around the globe to come down hard on what was generally seen as Facebook launching its own world currency, and that realy gave some early backers very cold feet.
For example, between late 2019 and early 2020, multiple large firms including Vodafone eBay, Mastercard, Paypal, and Stripe withdrew from the Libra Association as regulatory pressure grew to be too much to bear.
Yet these major departures have also been followed with new entrants. Back in February, crypto brokerage firm Tagomi and e-commerce platform Shopify came aboard as Libra Association members. The body’s latest arrival came last month, when U.K. payments platform Checkout.com announced it was Libra’s newest backer.
Yet not only has Libra’s membership recently changed — so too has its design.
Of course, the Libra stablecoin was originally unveiled as a “basketcoin,” a cryptocurrency that would be underpinned by a variety of fiat currencies rather than being pegged to a single currency. This dynamic peeved regulators, who perceived the plan as Facebook creating its own currency to rival the top currencies already widely used around the world today.
However, in recent months analysts and beyond have posited that the Libra Association could reconfigure the Libra stablecoin’s design to a more conservative product to appease regulators.
That’s precisely what the cryptoeconomy saw last month, when the association updated the stablecoin’s whitepaper for the first time. According to the revisions, the Libra Association will now indeed be launching multiple single-currency stablecoins pegged to currencies like the U.S. dollar, the British pound, the euro, and more.
The association noted that it still planned to offer something of a basketcoin, but instead of the offering being an actual token, it would instead be a “digital composite” of the aforementioned single-currency products:
“Under this change, ≋LBR will simply be a digital composite of some of the single-currency stablecoins available on the Libra network. It will be defined in terms of fixed nominal weights, such as the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) maintained by the International Money Fund (IMF).”