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  • For anyone following the troubled attempts by Facebook

  • to create a new global digital currency

  • Friday the 11th of October was a pretty dramatic day.

  • Within the space of about three hours,

  • five different companies all announced they no longer wanted

  • to be a part of Project Libra.

  • We at the FT had been hearing rumours about a possible mass

  • defection from the scheme for quite a while.

  • From the moment, in fact, when David Marcus, the co-creator

  • of this project, testified here in Washington DC

  • in front of Congress, and was given something of a mauling.

  • It was clear something was happening last Friday

  • when I received a text from a source telling me

  • that MasterCard was about to drop out,

  • at the same time that my colleague Hannah

  • Murphy in San Francisco was hearing

  • the same thing about eBay.

  • And within hours, confirmations came tumbling out,

  • not just from MasterCard and eBay,

  • but also from Visa, from Stripe, and from Mercado Pago.

  • So what was it that brought these companies, finally,

  • to decide they no longer wanted to be involved?

  • Well my sources tell me it was a letter,

  • signed by two democratic senators, Brian Schatz

  • and Sherrod Brown, in which they warned the payments companies

  • that if they proceeded with the project,

  • their existing businesses would come under greater

  • regulatory scrutiny.

  • The companies decided they simply

  • couldn't afford that risk, and so they backed out.

  • So can Facebook proceed with this project?

  • Well technically, it can.

  • And Mark Zuckerberg says the will is still there.

  • He is testifying in front of Congress

  • next week about it, in fact.

  • But with mistrust of Facebook being

  • one of the few things that still unites Democrats

  • and Republicans it would be a brave regulator

  • who decides to give this project the green light.

For anyone following the troubled attempts by Facebook

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