Naspers Says It’s Committed To Facebook’s Libra Despite Global Pushback

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
status quo Facebook's Libra
South African consumer internet group Naspers has reaffirmed its commitment to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency despite some fellow Libra Association backers pulling out. Image via Christoph Scholz/Flickr

South African consumer internet group Naspers has reaffirmed its commitment to Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency despite cold feet from its original backers and concerns from politicians.

PayU, Naspers’ fintech and online payments division, is one of 30 firms that signed up for the Libra Association, a group of companies that are expected to have a say in how Facebook‘s proposed cryptocurrency is managed.

Companies reportedly paid $10 million each to be founding members of the Libra Association and take part in the direction of the cryptocurrency’s development.

Since then, some high-profile exits have left Libra without a major U.S. payment processor among its original group of early backers, TheVerge reports.

PayPal said on Oct. 4 that it had left the Libra Association. A week later Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago followed PayPal out the door.

Naspers is Africa’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $100.7 billion. Launched in 2002, PayU is a payment service provider for merchants and buyers in 18 markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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Politicians and regulators against Facebook’s Libra

Regulators and politicians in the U.S. and Europe have cautioned against Libra, warning it could threaten and compete with the monetary sovereignty of countries. 

Governments of countries including France and Germany have come out against Libra.

Facebook unveiled plans for Libra in June, triggering immediate warnings from some experts that it could shift control of the economy from governments and their central banks to the high-profile tech businesses that back the digital currency.

PayU remains dedicated to Libra’s mission, Naspers CEO Bob Van Dijk said at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

“PayU enables people in markets where credit cards are not present to participate in the online economy. Libra is focused on people who have limited options to pay,” Van Dijk said, according to TechCentral.

“In Southeast Asia and Africa, transferring money is one of the most expensive things to do (and) libra can play a big role in empowering people.”

Van Dijk said that the philosophy behind Libra is positive and he is excited that Libra provides an open platform that anyone can use.

The Naspers CEO admits that there are some regulatory issues that still need to be ironed out. “The reality is there are some really big regulatory issues — they need to be resolved. There are smart people working on it … but it will take some time.”