In the first half of 2019, Facebook’s digital currency initiative Libra was all anyone could talk about.
Even though the details of the venture were not unveiled until June, rumors about the international cryptocurrency quickly spread across the industry, with some even going as far as to suggest that the hype around this product helped drive Bitcoin from the $3,000s to $14,000 in a few months’ time.
When the project finally launched later in 2019, expectations were quickly deflated and the air in the Libra bubble, so to speak, disappeared.
You see, the project was under much scrutiny, with even President Donald Trump weighing in to claim that Libra (and Bitcoin too) could be dangerous.
Due to this scrutiny, many of Libra’s partners, who signed tentative agreements to be a part of the cryptocurrency venture, jumped ship. eBay, Visa, and Mastercard were among the firms that bid adieu to the project.
It appears it’s getting worse though, with Libra recently losing its latest partner, seemingly due to regulatory pressure from jurisdictions across the globe.
Yet Another Libra Member Jumps Ship
According to a BBC report published Tuesday, a spokesperson for Vodafone, a primarily British telecom provider, has decided to “withdraw from the Libra Association.”
The Association, for those unaware, is the group that is managing the creation and operation of the Libra blockchain, which will have its own cryptocurrency. “We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion,” the spokesperson added, seemingly trying to show that this move was not made in ill intent to the goals of financial inclusion.
A Libra spokesperson asserted in the wake of this departure that the underlying structure of the project remains intact:
The design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.
Although Vodafone will not be moving forward with Libra, the Association still has a swath of prominent backers per the official website, some of which are as follows: Legendary venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Uber, Spotify, Lyft, Coinbase, and Union Square Ventures.
Not to mention, by the time of Libra’s launch (if it happens), the group intends to have over 100 partners.
China Will Be First In Widespread Digital Currency Game
Although Libra may still be backed by some of the world’s most powerful technology companies despite these Association departures, it appears it won’t be the first to launch a multi-million-person-facing digital currency in any meaningful capacity.
That title, right now at least, is most likely to go to China. Yes, China, the world’s biggest country by population size alone.
Per a report published by the South China Morning Post just recently, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) confirmed in a statement that “smooth progress” has been made on the development of digital yuan currency.
Further details were rather scant, though this comes hot on the heels of a report that Mu Changchun, the official in charge of the development of China’s crypto asset, said the “top-level design, formulation, functional research, and testing” has been completed.
The PBOC is expected to soon roll out a pilot project in the cities of Shenzhen and Suzhou, the former of which being China’s iteration of Silicon Valley.
There will be a first small-scale phase, which is purportedly slated to begin in the coming weeks, and a second, during which the digital currency will be widely promoted in the two aforementioned cities sometime in 2020.