Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has been working on a digital currency project called Libra since 2019. The project has faced many challenges and criticisms from regulators, lawmakers, and the public. However, the co-creator of Libra, Morgan Beller, recently revealed the geopolitical motivation behind her work: China.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative and digital yuan
Beller spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 and said that “what got [her] out of bed every morning [at the time] was China.” She specifically referred to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive infrastructure and investment project that aims to connect Asia, Africa, Europe, and beyond. Beller said that BRI was “the most ambitious geopolitical project of our lifetime” and that it had implications for the future of global trade and finance.
Beller also mentioned China’s development of a digital yuan, a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that could potentially challenge the dominance of the US dollar as the global reserve currency. She said that China was “building a parallel financial system” that could bypass the existing one and create a new power dynamic in the world.
Libra’s vision and challenges
Beller said that she wanted to create Libra as a counterweight to China’s ambitions and as a way to empower people around the world with access to a global, open, and interoperable payment system. She said that Libra was designed to be a “neutral protocol” that could enable innovation and inclusion in the digital economy.
However, Libra faced many hurdles and criticisms since its inception. Many regulators and lawmakers expressed concerns about Libra’s potential impact on monetary policy, financial stability, consumer protection, privacy, and national security. Some also questioned Meta’s role and trustworthiness in leading such a project, given its history of scandals and controversies.
As a result, Libra had to undergo several changes and revisions over the years. It rebranded itself as Diem in 2020 and scaled back its original vision of creating a global currency backed by a basket of fiat currencies. Instead, it decided to focus on creating multiple stablecoins pegged to different national currencies. It also moved its headquarters from Switzerland to the US and sought approval from US regulators.
The future of Libra/Diem
Beller said that she was no longer involved in the Libra/Diem project, but she remained optimistic about its future. She said that she believed that Libra/Diem would eventually launch and provide a valuable service to millions of people around the world. She also said that she hoped that Libra/Diem would inspire more innovation and competition in the digital currency space.
Beller said that she was proud of her work on Libra/Diem and that she learned a lot from the experience. She said that she was now working on other projects related to crypto and blockchain at Meta. She said that she was still passionate about creating positive social impact through technology.