Facebook will not control the new Libra cryptocurrency it has launched or the network around it, the social media giant’s lead on the project has said.
David Marcus said Facebook will have no “special rights or privileges” around Libra or the Calibra digital wallet linked to it, as he defended the company’s new project.
The social network announced the new digital currency system last month, with backing from firms including Mastercard, Visa and PayPal, which will eventually allow users to store and spend money directly from their smartphone.
Writing a blog published on Facebook, Mr Marcus said Libra users do not have to trust Facebook in order to use the service.
“Facebook will not control the network, the currency, or the reserve backing it,” he said. “Facebook will only be one among over 100 members of the Libra Association by launch.
“We will not have any special rights or privileges. Facebook created a subsidiary – Calibra – that will operate a wallet service on top of the Libra network, and while Facebook Inc owns and controls Calibra, it won’t see financial data from Calibra.”
He added that users will be able to use a number of different digital wallets and software beyond those being launched by Facebook.
“Bottom line: You won’t have to trust Facebook to get the benefit of Libra. And Facebook won’t have any special responsibility over the Libra network,” he said.
“But we hope that people will respond favourably to the Calibra wallet. We’ve been clear about our approach to financial data separation and we will live up to our commitments and work hard to deliver real utility.”
The social network has seen its public image dented in recent years by a number of scandals – including the Cambridge Analytica data breach – and has faced questions over its role in the rise of misinformation online and concerns over the impact of social media on mental health, particularly among young people.
Mr Marcus reiterated that Facebook is just one of a number of founding members of Libra who will work together to manage the currency.
“I wanted to remind everyone that Facebook, through its subsidiary Calibra, is just one of the initial 28 founding members that are coming together to form the Libra Association,” he said.
“It’s easy to assume from the headlines that Libra is only associated with Facebook, but that is not the case.
“We made the deliberate decision to announce the plans for Libra early. This was after an initial consultative phase with regulators, central banks, and other organisations from all around the world.
“Our rationale was simple: We wanted to encourage open discussion by design. Launching a high-quality medium of exchange in the form of a cryptocurrency, and its supporting infrastructure, cannot happen in darkness.
“If we truly want to have a chance to better serve the billions of people, and businesses, who deserve to be served by modern, open, financial services, this is the only way.”
The Facebook executive said the overall aim of the new currency is to provide better financial services to more people.
“With Libra, anyone with a 40 US dollar smartphone and connectivity will have the ability to securely safeguard their assets, access the world economy, transact at a much lower cost, and over time access a whole range of financial services.
“We firmly believe that if Libra is successful, it can be a non-linear step change for billions of people who need it the most.”