Facebook is taking a much more careful approach to Libra than its previous projects, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed.
“Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out,” he said. “But right now I’m really focused on making sure that we do this well.”
Zuckerberg on Libra: Talking first, rollout second
Speaking in an interview with Asia-based news outlet Nikkei on Sept. 26, Zuckerberg appeared to show a rare display of fear in the face of mounting regulatory scrutiny of Libra.
Facebook’s digital currency has come under fire from governments worldwide since its whitepaper appeared several months ago. High-profile regulatory hearings have so far failed to quash the negative reactions; governments fear Libra will undermine fiat currency systems.
“Part of the approach and how we've changed is that now when we do things that are going to be very sensitive for society, we want to have a period where we can go out and talk about them and consult with people and get feedback and work through the issues before rolling them out,” Zuckerberg told the publication.
“And that's a very different approach than what we might have taken five years ago. But I think it's the right way for us to do this at the scale that we operate in.”
Coinbase calls criticism “odd and misguided”
Preemptively solving aspects of Libra critics find unappetizing strikes a notable contrast to fiat alternatives such as Bitcoin (BTC), the founder of which, Satoshi Nakamoto, simply released the code and let the network grow organically.
Cryptocurrency sources have also cast scorn on authorities keen to stifle any innovation Facebook is attempting to introduce.
“Libra is one of several important crypto projects on the horizon with the potential to improve the world. Whether it works or not still remains to be seen, but I find the backlash to it a bit odd and misguided,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted on Wednesday.
Libra could appear by the end of 2020. When pressed by Nikkei, however, Zuckerberg stopped short of committing to a timeframe.
Additionally, as CoinDesk notes, David Marcus, CEO of Calibra (the entity building a digital wallet for the project), has been making the case for Libra as an improvement on traditional payment systems.
In a Medium post Wednesday, he wrote that Libra would be a “game-changer” for the public, arguing that “existing ‘money networks’ are closed and are not well interconnected.”
"Long story short, building on top of existing rails and across disconnected payment networks won’t reduce cost, open up the market to more innovation, nor lower the barrier of access to modern financial services as much as building a new infrastructure with a very stable, high quality global medium of exchange supporting it."
Libra, on the other hand, will enable value to be moved around the world at in “near real-time” and at “an incredibly low cost.”