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Facebook’s Libra Project Receives Major Boost from Temasek


May. 15 2020, Published 11:34 a.m. ET

Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Libra cryptocurrency project continues to show signs of life even after PayPal, Vodafone, and other prominent backers abandoned it. In a major boost to the efforts to build a global digital currency, Singapore’s Temasek has joined the Libra Association.

Libra has just added three new partners as it continues to replace defectors. In addition to Temasek, Paradigm and Slow Ventures have also joined the project. Notably, Paradigm and Slow Ventures are investment firms with a big interest in technology. For example, Slow Ventures was an early investor in Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) and Postmates.

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Facebook’s Libra seeks to simplify money transactions

Facebook’s Libra project was unveiled in June 2019. Libra would cut the cost of everyday money transactions and bridge the existing financial divide. Nearly 2.0 billion adults around the world lack a bank account or access to basic formal financial services.

Facebook has set up a financial services subsidiary called “Calibra” through which it plans to provide Libra-based services.

However, the Libra project ran into regulatory headwinds early on, which delayed its launch. The Libra group revised its plans to address regulatory concerns and pave the way for its launch. Meanwhile, Facebook and its partners will likely launch Libra as a digital payment platform in November. The original plan was to launch Libra in June.

Temasek sees a path to low-cost retail payments

Temasek is one of the Libra project’s biggest wins. First, Temasek is an investment arm of Singapore’s government. The investment arm has about $220 billion in assets. Temasek has a broad investment portfolio, which includes stakes in Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) stock. Alibaba and JD.com are China’s top e-commerce companies.

Overall, Temasek sees Facebook’s Libra project as a path to lower the cost of retail payments. Notably, Temasek’s backing of Libra comes after it outlined a huge opportunity in Southeast Asia’s Internet economy. Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), which helps merchants set up digital shops, also joined Libra in February. Notably, Shopify wants to simplify payments for its clients.

In addition to Libra opening a new revenue source, Facebook expects it to supercharge its advertising business. Facebook stock fell in the past few months. The coronavirus outbreak threatened the company’s core advertising business. At $206 per share, Facebook stock has pulled up more than 50% from its pandemic lows. However, the stock still trades at about an 8.0% discount to its 52-week high of $224.


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