Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe drop out of Facebook's Libra project

Facebook's proposed entry into the cryptocurrency market is in peril as several major backers walk away from the project.

Mastercard, Visa, eBay and Stripe are all dropping out of Facebook's Libra payments network, according to reports, putting Facebook's proposed entry into the cryptocurrency market in peril. The news comes just days after PayPal backed out of the project and follows months of scrutiny from regulators worldwide. 

Facebook announced Libra back in June, explaining that it intended to roll out a digital coin in 2020. It would integrate with Facebook services and will provide the asset required for e-commerce transactions on its platform and beyond. At the time, Facebook announced that several major backers were supporting the project and would form the Geneva-based Libra Association, a consortium to oversee the cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain's development. Other initial members of the consortium included Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Vodafone, Mercado Pago, PayU and others. 

In statements, the payment companies leaving the consortium left the door open for further engagement with the Libra project. 

"Visa has decided not to join the Libra Association at this time," a Visa company spokesperson said in a statement to ZDNet. "We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association's ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.  Visa's continued interest in Libra stems from our belief that well-regulated blockchain-based networks could extend the value of secure digital payments to a greater number of people and places, particularly in emerging and developing markets." 

A Stripe spokesperson gave a similar statement to ZDNet: "Stripe is supportive of projects that aim to make online commerce more accessible for people around the world. Libra has this potential. We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage."

In a statement to ZDNet's sister site CNET, eBay said, "We highly respect the vision of the Libra Association; however, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member. We are focused on rolling out eBay's managed payments experience for our customers."

Mastercard did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

As ZDNet's Charlie Osborne noted earlier in the week, the Libra project drew immediate skepticism from lawmakers and regulators, in part because of Facebook's lackluster approach to security and privacy. 

The US Federal Reserve said Libra was of "serious concern" and would not be permitted to go any further until the company answered regulators' questions. Meanwhile, France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the cryptocurrency likely poses a risk to consumers, adding that "monetary sovereignty of countries [is] at stake."

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