Banking News

Libra loses Booking.com, forms governing council

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Today the Libra Association announced that 21 initial members have signed the Libra Association Charter and the governing council was formalized. Bookings Holdings is the latest withdrawal from the stablecoin project, following the departures of five payments founding members and eBay. Bookings is the holding company for Booking.com, Priceline, Kayak and OpenTable.

The five payments companies that withdrew in the last ten days are PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Stripe and Mercado Pago. Following the backlash against Libra by regulators, concerns about increased oversight must have been a contributing factor. Hence 25% of the original members have dropped out since Facebook’s digital currency and blockchain project was unveiled in June.

The council appointed a five-member board of directors who are Matthew Davie (Kiva Microfunds), Patrick Ellis (PayU), Katie Haun (Andreessen Horowitz), David Marcus (Facebook’s Calibra), and Wences Casares (Xapo).

Katie Haun commented on Twitter: “Even though some of the original members have changed, we remain committed to Libra’s mission.” She continued, “It’s also important to look at this project in the global context. By attempting to block Libra before it’s even built, US policymakers risk ceding leadership over one of the most important emerging technologies.” Haun worked at the U.S. Department of Justice until May 2017.

As with many tech companies, there are existing relationships between several of the firms. For example, Andreessen Horowitz was an investor in Facebook, and David Marcus invested in Xapo, the company that was the first to issue a debit card that used Bitcoin and ethereum. Unsurprisingly, Andreessen Horowitz invested in several of the other founding members such as Anchorage, Coinbase and Lyft.

An initial operating management team was announced headed by Bertrand Perez as COO and Interim Managing Director. Perez is an engineer who worked for almost eight years at PayPal until May this year. His stint overlapped with that of David Marcus, who was President of PayPal. Marcus hired several former colleagues to join the Libra team at Facebook.

The other two operating team members are Dante Disparte, Head of Policy and Communications (a successful entrepreneur with a background in insurance), and Kurt Hemecker, Head of Business Development. Both Hemecker and Perez worked at payments company Zong which was founded by Marcus and acquired by PayPal.

In terms of the governing council, the admission or rejection of a member requires a two-thirds majority as do other significant decisions. These include appointing board members, changing the articles or dissolving the Association. However, most decisions will need a simple majority.

The Association stated that since the June announcement 1,500 entities have expressed an interest in joining Libra of which180 have met preliminary membership criteria.

The full list of current Calibra members are Anchorage, Andreessen Horowitz, Bison Trails, Breakthrough Initiatives, Facebook’s Calibra, Coinbase, Creative Destruction Lab, Iliad, Kiva Microfunds, Lyft, Mercy Corps, PayU, Ribbit Capital, Spotify, Thrive Capital, Uber, Union Square Ventures, Vodafone, Women’s World Banking, and Xapo.

Update: Twitter comment from Katie Haun added


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