Photograph — Fortune

Vodafone has quit Facebook’s digital currency project, Libra, saying it would focus efforts on its own mobile payments service, M-Pesa. It is the latest to leave the project after earlier exits by Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, and eBay.

“Vodafone Group has decided to withdraw from the Libra Association,” a company statement read. “We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion. We remain fully committed to that goal and feel we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on [mobile payments platform] M-Pesa.”

Facebook announced the launch of the digital currency in June 2019 in partnership with other member companies of the association but the initiative has faced a series of regulatory scrutiny. In October, the world’s biggest economies warned cryptocurrencies such as Libra pose a risk to the global financial system.

Payments giants Mastercard and Visa pulled out of the Libra project in October, citing regulatory uncertainty. Paypal quit in the same month, saying it would instead focus on its own core mission and business priorities.

However, Vodafone did not rule out a future return to the Libra Association. “We will continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association and do not rule out the possibility of future co-operation,” it said.

With the exodus of backers casting doubts over the feasibility of the Libra project, Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association, said the makeup of the Association members may change over time, but the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.


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