Libra has become a controversial topic for both Facebook and global regulators since the digital currency was first officially announced in June. While project head David Marcus remains confident that Libra will launch next year, a series of leaked tapes from Mark Zuckerberg give a different indication of the currency’s immediate future. 

Zuckerberg on Libra

On Oct. 1, news outlet The Verge published a series of internal discussions between Zuckerberg and employees at Facebook, with some interesting implications for Libra. 

For the most part, the tapes center around Facebook employees who appear concerned that mounting pressure and calls for a potential breakup of the social media platform will create a murky future for the company. Zuckerberg attempted to address their concerns in two separate meetings held in July, which The Verge was able to obtain leaked transcripts and audio from. 

In relation to Libra, Zuckerberg revealed that the project may make an initial launch without an accompanying token. Libra has been building a digital platform through the Libra Association that extends beyond just a digital currency. 

The CEO’s comments hinted that the project will be rolled out in various stages and in different countries, 

We have a test going in India. We’re working in Mexico and a bunch of other countries to have this rolled out broadly. The hope is to get that rolled out in a lot of places with existing currencies before the end of this year.

Zuckerberg highlighted the importance of the ecosystem that will be built around Libra, 

We have this bigger, or at least more exotic, project around Libra, which is to try to stand up a new kind of digital money that can work globally.

Intentionally Announced Early

Facebook’s CEO also explained to employees that Libra was intentionally announced prematurely, which is in part responsible for the regulatory blowback. Zuckerberg wanted the project to receive feedback from the global ecosystem in a more “consultative” approach,

But part of what we’re trying to do overall on these big projects now that touch very socially important aspects of society is have a more consultative approach. So not just show up and say, ‘Alright, here we’re launching this. Here’s a product, your app got updated, now you can start buying Libras and sending them around.'

He added, 

This is going to be a long road. We kind of expected this.

Despite the outcry from global regulators, Zuckerberg believes that launching Libra will be among the easier projects for Facebook to get out the door. 

He explained, 

[I wouldn’t] be surprised if [Facebook] ends up having similar engagements like this on other socially important things that [it’s] trying to move, like [its] big push to get towards more encryption across [its] messaging apps.

Zuckerberg used AR and VR as an example of more potentially challenging projects for the social media platform to overcome, 

We’re trying to make AR and VR a big thing in the next five years to 10 years… I don’t know, you think Libra is hard to launch. ‘Facebook wants to perform brain surgery,’ I don’t want to see the congressional hearings on that one.

While libra is off to a contentious start, many in the community of crypto view Facebook’s presence as a positive development for the industry. The Winklevoss Twins, founder of the exchange Gemini, are reportedly in talks to join the Libra Association. In September, ethereum co-founders Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin said that they welcome a potential collaboration between Libra and Ethereum.

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