Pick your title: Financial empowerment to the unbanked is closer thanks to the Libra Association

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17 June 2019
Alenka Grealish

OR Facebook poised to dominant mobile wallets with Calibra

The early days of digital assets are becoming increasingly interesting and vibrant. Today, details about Facebook’s secret cryptocurrency project were unveiled, but not as Facebook coin, but rather as a collaborative project under the auspices of the Libra Association (see white paper on the Libra currency).

Libra is a fitting symbol of the delicate balance between market forces and social good. In this case the market forces are powerful: led by Facebook and ranging from the card networks and PayPal to eBay, Spotify, and Lyft. Facebook is striving to use its vast platform to drive adoption of its Calibra wallet. With over 2 billion daily users of one of Facebook's services, scaling Calibra shows promise.

The question is: will market forces drive the social good? (That is, Libra Association’s mission of “A simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.”) Market forces are insufficient. Other forces that are critical to raising incomes are paramount, such as stable, democratic governments which reduce corruption and encourage entrepreneurialism and equitable access to education beginning at a young age.

A combination of market and governmental forces will determine if Libra achieves law, fairness, and civility as symbolized by the ancient Libra scale. Market forces alone, however, will determine Libra’s fate as a liquid medium of exchange. Currently, there is no “last mile” exchange into fiat currency, which is necessary for Libra’s usage to scale (a lesson from PayPal, which found that users keep zero to nominal balances in their account).

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