Today the Libra Association announced a rebrand to Diem Association and revealed a raft of new hires. In a tweet Vice-Chairman Dante Disparte said “Today marks a new day in that journey, a new name, a world-class team and a sharpened vision.”
Last week it was reported that people close to Libra thought the Swiss regulator FINMA’s approval could come in time for a January 2021 launch. We outlined why that seems unlikely given the insistence of the G7 and G20 that appropriate regulations need to be in place first.
However, today’s announcement says that “with the top team now in place, the Diem Association is prioritizing technological and operational readiness for launch.”
Stuart Levey, the Diem Association CEO, said “the licensing process is ongoing and the operational subsidiary of the Association is in active and productive dialogue with FINMA.”
It reiterated its new focus on supporting single currency stablecoins rather than a basket of currencies. Its emphasis is now on a compliant payments network rather than a digital currency. That included shifting away from a permissionless system after concerns that bad actors might be able to side-step compliance.
However, having secured these compromises, regulators’ top concerns have also shifted beyond basic compliance and around the potential for the global scale of a stablecoin to disrupt the financial system. They also worry about the impact on competition of a big tech-supported payment network.
Diem says it wants to reinforce its “organizational independence”, presumably from Facebook. But one of the announced hires is a new Diem Association Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Dahlia Malkhi. She was recently Lead Researcher at Facebook’s Novi wallet subsidiary after a long stint as a researcher at VMWare.