Facebook-Backed Libra Association Appoints CEO
Source: TechMeru

In Brief:

  • HSBC’s chief attorney takes over as CEO of Libra Association. 
  • Levey will start his new job in the summer this year.
  • This announcement comes weeks after Libra revealed plans to alter its initial vision in an attempt to reassure regulators that it will not encourage criminal activity.

Facebook Inc owned Libra Association, the firm behind digital currency Libra, said it has appointed Stuart Levey as its first chief executive officer.

Levey, who was serving as Chief Legal Officer of HSBC for the last eight years, has plenty of accolades to his name including experience working with both Democratic and Republican presidents. As US’ under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Levey was instrumental in setting US and international policy to combat illicit finance. 

He also oversaw enforcement of sanctions of all U.S. civil anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing laws by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. 

In the new role, Levey will use his skills “to combine technology innovation with a robust compliance and regulatory framework,” Libra Association said. 

“Technology provides us with the opportunity to make it easier for individuals and businesses to send and receive money, and to empower more than a billion people who have been left on the sidelines of the financial system, all with robust controls to detect and deter illicit financial activity,” Levey said in a statement.

In the statement, Katie Haun, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and Libra Association board member who led the CEO search committee described Levey as “an accomplished leader in both the government, where he enjoyed bipartisan respect and influence, and the private sector where he managed teams spread across the globe.”

“Stuart shares our vision for using blockchain technology to deliver a more open, inclusive and high-functioning payment system that puts crypto in the hands of billions around the world,” Haun added.

Libra scaling back to a new financial system to get regulators’ support

This is hardly the only announcement made by Libra recently. The firm announced new members including nonprofit Heifer International and ecommerce site Checkout.com. The group has also initiated the process to receive a payment license through the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

Additionally, in April this year, Libra announced that it will be scaling back and will focus on creating a more traditional payment network as opposed to its original plan of introducing a global financial system. The plan at first, which was unveiled last June, triggered much backlash and criticism from central banks and regulators who feared that the cryptocurrency could threaten fiscal policy, expedite money laundering and potentially endanger users’ privacy. As a result, Libra’s original backers, including Mastercard Inc, Visa Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc, backed out from the project.

Consequently, to comply with regulatory requirements, the governing body announced a few changes. In the revamp, coins will be linked to a local currency overseen by watchdogs. While Libra will also have its own coin backed by other national currencies, it will not be the focus.

The design of the Libra coin has also been changed. The recently published whitepaper said that the new coin “will not be a separate digital asset from the single-currency stablecoins.” 

Libra, which had planned to launch by the end of June, now aims to do so between by the end of the year.