Apr 17, 2020 - Technology

Facebook scales back its Libra ambitions

Ina Fried, author of Login

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The team behind the Facebook-backed Libra digital currency effort announced several key changes scaling back what once seen as a monetary instrument that could be used to rival and subvert national currencies.

Why it matters: The moves are designed to address concerns from governments and others, but also represent a further reining in of ambitions for the initiative, which launched with great fanfare last year.

Among the changes:

  • The Libra Organization will move to develop several individual digital "stablecoins" each tied to a different official currency. It will still develop a multicurrency coin, but that will be tied to the other single-currency coins rather than a basket of national currencies.
  • It's looking a lot less blockchain-y. Instead of the permissionless system originally envisioned, the Libra organization said it is exploring ways "to offer new entrants the ability to compete for the provision of core network services and participate in the governance of the Libra network while ensuring the Association's ability to meet regulatory expectations."
  • Facebook plans a more phased rollout.

Between the lines: The Libra effort has been seen as a way for Facebook to expand the ways it makes money as the company plots a shift toward private, encrypted messaging, which could limit advertising potential.

Go deeper: Don't bother worrying about Libra

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