Facebook Libra may not launch in time after all

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested Libra may not launch on time after all, in a week that has seen the stablecoin meet more resistance from regulators.

Earlier in the week, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) became the latest central bank to voice its opposition to the project, calling for strict standards of international regulation to control the proposed stablecoin.

Libra had been scheduled for release in 2020, with plans for an international rollout. Now, in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Zuckerberg appeared to imply there was flexibility in that timescale. Acknowledging the concerns of regulators and other industry stakeholders, Zuckerberg said Facebook would “work through” these challenges before proceeding with the launch of Libra.

A lot of people have had questions and concerns, and we’re committed to making sure that we work through all of those before moving forward.

Tellingly, he suggested it could take a number of years to get the launch right, in remarks which appear to come in response to the growing disquiet of financial regulators and central banks worldwide, saying, “Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out…But right now I’m really focused on making sure that we do this well.”

Zuckerberg said that Facebook now intends to have a period of review and consultation before the launch, which could add further delay to the rollout.

“Part of the approach and how we’ve changed is that now when we do things that are going to be very sensitive for society, we want to have a period where we can go out and talk about them and consult with people and get feedback and work through the issues before rolling them out,” he told the news outlet. “And that’s a very different approach than what we might have taken five years ago. But I think it’s the right way for us to do this at the scale that we operate in.”

While Zuckerberg stopped short of putting a revised timeline on the launch, his comments pour cold water on the promise of a 2020 launch.

Even on a longer-frame timescale, Facebook still has a number of challenges to overcome in order to get its stablecoin into circulation. 

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