January 26, 2021

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Libra Hires New General Counsel for Payments Subsidiary

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Libra Hires New General Counsel for Payments Subsidiary

The Libra Association announced today that Saumya Bhavsar, a lawyer with experience at Credit Suisse and UBS, will serve as general counsel for its payments operation, Libra Networks.

The Libra Association was established by Facebook in 2019 to oversee the company’s digital currency initiatives, including (but not limited to) the digital currency Libra (LBR). Per the association’s website, it’s an independent financial governance organization based in Switzerland and organized by Facebook. David Marcus, the chief architect of the Libra currency, is one of five sitting board members.

Though she’s spent most of her career in the private sector, Bhavsar’s resume also includes time at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; the OCC is an independent office of the US Treasury responsible for regulating national banks and federal savings associations.

Libra has had a somewhat rocky development process, and the scope of the project has changed significantly over the past few years. First announced in 2019, Libra was marketed as a kind of cryptocurrency, though that designation was somewhat misleading. And given Facebook’s track record of selling users’ data without their knowledge, it’s faced extreme scrutiny from regulators, politicians, and potential users.

The Libra whitepaper promised a currency that was both permissionless and permissioned—something that is definitionally impossible, and that the company has since backed down from. The Libra Association has also lost many of its initial partners, including PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard. And last fall, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before congress to defend the project.

Facebook’s Libra was always destined to fail

In April of this year, Facebook announced a scaled-back plan for Libra, focused more on a stablecoin wallet called Calibra (the name has since been changed to Novi).

The Libra Association hasn’t announced release dates for Libra or Novi.

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