Vodafone has been added to the list of companies that have pulled out of the Libra Association, raising further doubt that the digital currency will get off the ground this year.
Facebook unveiled the vision for Libra, which it has promised will promote “financial inclusion” around the world, in June. At the time, there were 28 members in the Libra Association, a nonprofit Facebook founded to manage the digital currency system. Then, in October, PayPal kicked off a string of high-profile exits including Visa, Mastercard, eBay, and Stripe. Vodafone is the first one to back out so far this year. Remaining members include Uber, Lyft, and Spotify.
Vodafone says it plans to devote resources previously meant for Libra to M-Pesa, its digital payments platform that is already established in several African nations, Afghanistan, India, and Romania. It is not clear whether Libra might represent competition for M-Pesa.
Since day one, Libra has faced skepticism and resistance from policymakers around the world, many of whom still aren’t sure of how to approach it from a regulatory standpoint. Although the goal is to launch the currency this year, with 100 total members, it won’t be surprising if it doesn’t make that deadline.
The Libra Association insists that the project will continue and says that it will take as long as necessary to ensure the approval of regulators before launching.