While Facebook’s Libra project was said to already have 28 founding partners when unveiled last month, that isn’t quite the case, according to Visa’s CEO and board chairman, Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.
In a Q3 2019 earnings call on Tuesday, Kelly responded to a question on his firm’s involvement with the Libra project from Bryan C. Keane, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities.
Keane asked, “Just wanted to ask on Facebook’s Libra, there’s some confusion in the market on how to think about that. Is it a strategic partner for Visa or potential disruptive threat? Just curious your thoughts and level of expected Visa involvement in Facebook Libra.”
Playing down the firm’s involvement with Libra, Kelly responded that “it’s important to understand the facts.”
“So we have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to join Libra. We’re one of – I think it’s 27 companies that have expressed that interest. So, no one has yet officially joined.”
The Libra Association’s group of 28 launch partners includes Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, Coinbase and others.
“Implied in this project is that wherever the Visa or Mastercard logo are accepted, Libra would follow suit,” Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association, told CoinDesk at the time. “In so many ways it’s a great leap forward for cryptocurrencies and, in many respects, a mainstreaming of this asset class.”
Going forward, the decision to fully join Facebook’s cryptocurrency project would be decided by a “number of factors, including obviously the ability of the association to satisfy all the requisite regulatory requirements,” Kelly said.
As suggested, since its release of a Libra white paper in mid-June, Facebook has been defending itself from a storm of calls from regulators worldwide for more information on how the scheme would work, amid concerns over what affect it could have on financial stability and users’ privacy.
Kelly emphasized in the call that “it’s really, really early days” and much has still to be finalized regarding Libra. He finished on a positive note for Facebook, however, saying:
“But obviously, given that we’ve expressed interest, we actually believe we could be additive and helpful in the association.”
The CEO’s comments come as confirmation of a New York Times piece from late June that cited unnamed sources at seven of the firms as saying that they had signed nonbinding agreements with Facebook.