Shopify joins Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project

The e-commerce giant said it was joining Libra in hopes of improving commerce on a global scale.

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E-commerce platform provider Shopify announced Friday that it has joined the Libra Association, the beleaguered cryptocurrency effort launched by Facebook. Shopify said in a blog post that the company joined Libra in hopes of improving commerce on a global scale. 

"As online commerce becomes increasingly borderless, it's easy to forget that payments and the value exchange of goods are not a solved problem everywhere," the company said. "Much of the world's financial infrastructure was not built to handle the scale and needs of internet commerce. As a member of the Libra Association, we will work collectively to build a payment network that makes money easier to access and supports merchants and consumers everywhere."

In a series of Tweets, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke said the decision to join Libra when other companies have opted to leave the association was based on the future potential of the digital currency. 

"We like to make decisions based on future potential instead of heard movement," Lutke said. "Funnily enough, this usually leads to us doing the opposite of the others."

Lutke said Shopify currently supports a variety of cryptocurrency, but that there isn't much demand from buyers to use it. 

Also: PayPal backs out: what does this mean for the future of Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency?

As for Libra, Facebook announced the crypto effort back in June 2019, explaining that it intended to roll out a digital coin in 2020. It would integrate with Facebook services and provide the asset required for e-commerce transactions on its platform and beyond. The Libra coin's underlying blockchain and digital wallet would be managed by a Facebook subsidiary, Calibra.

At the time, Facebook announced that several major backers and financial players were supporting the project and would form the Geneva-based Libra Association, a consortium to oversee the cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain's development. Initial members of the consortium included Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Vodafone, Mercado Pago, PayU and others. 

However, by October, Mastercard, Visa, eBay, PayPal, and Stripe dropped out of the Libra project following months of scrutiny from regulators worldwide, in part because of Facebook's lackluster approach to security and privacy. 

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