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Where Facebook Libra Got It Right
and Where It May Not
A review of Facebook Libra White Paper and how Africa can plug-in
June 2019
About the Author
Opeyemi Praise is a Saïd Business School (University of Oxford) trained FinTech enthusiast. He studied Electrical/Electronic
Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University. He has many years of experience in ICT/Telecoms. His interest in Finance and
FinTech drove him to write CFA Level 1 which he passed in January 2019. He is also trained in Financial Modelling and Valuation
Analysis. He is an MBA Candidate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He can be reached at ope.praise@yahoo.com.
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/opepraise
Introduction
On June 18th
, 2019 Facebook officially announced its crypto-currency called Libra which will be
operational by 2020. Libra combines the strength of the legacy crypto-currency and firmed-up their
weaknesses. The weaknesses of legacy crypto-currency is in their ideology; which is anti-government
and anti-capitalist. The founding fathers of Crypto-currency hated the control of government and the
schemes of big companies. The strong aversion of legacy crypto-currency for financial institution (owing
to the same aversion for capitalism) is an undoing. Facebook Libra embraces all the advantages of legacy
crypto (Blockchain, Cryptography, Security, Transparency etc) in one hand and openness to
governmental control, big corporations and collaborations. This makes Libra a tool for commerce (cross-
border or “in-border”) with low volatility.
Feature of Libra and Why It Is Different from Other Crypto-Currencies
Libra has a number of good attributes that make it very robust, reliable and acceptable. We will evaluate
briefly each of these attributes.
 Asset-Backed. Libra will be backed by historically stable securities like low-volatility government
securities; this makes Libra low-volatility crypto-currency unlike Bitcoin that derive its value
from undulating wave of sentiments. See below the volatility of Bitcoin in five years. The value
of Bitcoin is very unstable and easily affected by the slightest sentiments.
Volatility of Bitcoin (with Dollar) in Five Years. {Image Credit; Google.com}
 Governance Structure. Libra will be governed by the independent Libra Association. There will
be 100 members; 27 of which are already Founding Members - these are successful global
corporations.
 Accessibility and Trustworthiness through Collaborations. Governments of nations had
concerns with Bitcoin. It was feared that it will be used to aid money laundering, buy illegal
harms and can be used as means of payment for transactions in the under-world (especially the
dark web). These are valid reasons to fight crypto. And it turned out they were right; Silk Road
proved so. Crypto-currency became the means for settlement in the dark web. Libra, on the
other hand, seeks to collaborate with governments of nations, financial regulators and big
corporations.
France Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire requested that Facebook provides guarantees that
Libra will not be used to fund terrorism. There will
be challenges but they definitely do not outweigh
the benefits Libra brings to the 21st
century
peoples of the world.
Benefits and Impacts of Libra
 Cheaper and Faster Transactions. Cross-border
and “in-border” trades will be cheaper. Bitcoin
did a great deal in facilitating this but Libra will do
much more as it is projected to have a bigger and
wider acceptance. Facebook leveraging on its
social media platforms which currently are
subscribed by 2.7 billion people will give a major
push. Libra will scale much more than Bitcoin,
Etherium and other Altcoins, all combined.
 Growth of Cross-Border E-commerce. Lack of
universally acceptable currency has been one of
the challenges of cross-border e-commerce
transactions. The advent of Libra will help
facilitate those transactions. E-commerce
business will be able to scale faster and become global in little or no time. This will cause growth
of the e-commerce companies in their countries of operations and also bigger growth for logistic
companies in countries of delivery.
 Growth of Crypto-currency Remittances Industry. Crypto-currency remittances industry is
currently being powered by Bitcoin. Companies like BitPesa should beginning to plan to migrate
to Libra, leveraging on its acceptance and stability.
 Restructuring of Financial Services Sector. Bank will have to collaborate with FinTech
companies and take advantage of Blockchain technology. Regulators will have to be open to
FinTechs and redesign regulations that drive openness, security and prosperity of every person.
 Smart Contract. Libra is not just a crypto-currency but also a platform for smart contracts.
Contract between two parties can be scheduled and clauses can be triggered by actions or
inactions of either parties. Bills can be paid automatically, service can be bought unmanned.
Robo-services companies can also leverage Libra’s smart contract.
Concerns! And Yes, We Need Answers.
There are number of concerns that potential users of Libra, regulators and government of nations have.
Some of them are as listed below.
Highlights
* Libra will be backed by historically
stable securities like low-volatility
government securities; this makes Libra
low-volatility crypto-currency unlike
Bitcoin that derive its value from
undulating wave of sentiments.
*Governments of nations had concerns
with Bitcoin. It was feared that it will be
used to aid money laundering, buy illegal
harms, as means of payment for
transactions in the under-world. These
are valid reasons to fight crypto. And it
turned out they were right; Silk Road
proved so.
 Data Privacy and International Data Hosting.
Regulators in many nations have regulations that
discourage hosting citizens’ data outside of their
geographical territories. Although Calibra has been
said to help handle data privacy issues of Libra, the
international data hosting issues must also be looked
at.
 AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/Countering
Financing of Terrorism). Libra will have to synchronize
with all the different AML jurisdictions; this will
eliminate Bruno Le Maire’s fear of funding terrorism
with Libra.
 Undermining Bitcoin and Other Legacy Crypto. Libra
should facilitate integrations with other crypto-
currencies. It is not yet clear how this will pan out but
Bitcoin with market capitalization of $191 billion sure
has a place in the FinTechs.
 Downplaying African Market. PayPal was restrictive of
African market at the inception. Libra should learn
from this. African companies and nations should be
well represented in Libra Association. Libra should lash
on the opportunity of reaching the unbanked in Africa. Africa has an appreciable mobile
network and low cost of smart phones which will drive Libra penetration in Africa. Africa should
have several validator nodes.
Let’s Bring It Home. How Can Africa Position Itself for Libra?
How can the nations in Africa take advantage of Libra? The following points address practical ways we
can take advantage of Libra.
 Africa Crypto Exchanges (NairaEx. etc) need to form a coalition to negotiate for validator nodes
and seats in Libra Association. This will help having a common front in discourses especially the
ones that affect Africa.
 African FinTech Start-ups should leverage Libra; Bitcoin powered remittance solution will soon
be powered by Libra; BitPesa and other start-up in the remittances space should position
themselves for the coming change. It might be a co-existence of both Libra and Bitcoin or a total
takeover of Libra.
 African Regulators should be open to adopt crypto-currencies. Africa should not always be
laggards. We can be early adopters. We don’t have to get late to the party and settle for
leftovers. There will be a total revamping of regulatory policies so as to accommodate the
burgeoning Libra crypto. Regulatory gaps should be closed out so as to prevent crimes and also
not kill a winning idea.
Highlights
*Crypto-currency remittances
industry are currently being
powered by Bitcoin. Companies like
BitPesa should beginning to plan to
migrate to Libra leveraging on its
acceptance and stability.
*Bank will have to collaborate with
FinTech companies and take
advantage of Blockchain
technology. Regulators will have to
be open to FinTechs and redesign
regulations that drive openness,
security and prosperity of every
person.
With Russian Central Bank considering its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that is gold-
backed, the dynamism of crypto-currency is fast changing. And it is not only Russia that is
considering having its own crypto; England,
Sweden, Uruguay and Spain are also taking it
seriously. Where is Africa in all of these? With this
being the trend, it will soon be unheard-of to hear
the government of any nation stifling use of
crypto-currency at the regulatory level.
 Big Telco should not be left out. Vodafone Group
is one of the 27 founding members with a seat at
Libra Association already. The big Telcos in Africa
must not be left out. MTN, Airtel, Econet, Liquid
Telecoms, Glo etc must form a strong coalition to
have their places in Libra Association; especially
because many Telcos in Africa are now divesting into FinTechs. Central Bank of Nigeria has put
up regulation, procedure and licensing for Mobile Money (Payment Service Banking {PSB}
License). MTN Nigeria and other telcos have secured their licenses for Mobile Money.
References
1. Cover Page Image Credit: https://www.france24.com/en/20190618-facebook-launch-global-
libra-cryptocurrency-internet
2. Libra Association Members, “An Introduction to Libra”, Libra White Paper, accessed June 23rd
2019, [https://libra.org/en-US/white-paper/]
3. Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, Bitcoin White Paper,
accessed June 23rd
2019, [https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf]
4. John Isige, “French Minister Bruno Le Maire is asking Facebook “for some guarantees,”
regarding Libra”, Web Content, accessed June 23rd
2019,
[https://www.fxstreet.com/cryptocurrencies/news/french-minister-bruno-le-maire-is-asking-
facebook-for-some-guarantees-regarding-libra-201906181132]
5. Wikipedia, “Central Bank Digital Currency”, Web Content, accessed June 22rd
2019,
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Bank_Digital_Currency]
6. Daniel Palmer, “Russia’s Central Bank Is Considering Launching a Digital Currency”, Web
Content, accessed June 22rd
2019, [https://www.coindesk.com/russias-central-bank-is-
considering-launching-a-digital-currency]
7. BitPesa Team, Web Content, accessed June 22rd
2019, [https://www.bitpesa.co/]
8. Central Bank of Nigeria Team, “Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service
Banks in Nigeria”, Web Content, accessed June 24th
2019,
[https://www.cbn.gov.ng/Out/2018/FPRD/OCTOBER%202018%20EXPOSURE%20PAYMENT%20
BANK.pdf]
Highlights
* With Russia Central Bank considering its
own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
that is gold-backed, the dynamism of
crypto-currency is fast changing. And it is
not only Russia that is considering having
its own crypto; England, Sweden, Uruguay
and Spain are also taking it seriously.
Where is Africa in all of these?

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Where facebook libra got it right and where it may not

  • 1. Where Facebook Libra Got It Right and Where It May Not A review of Facebook Libra White Paper and how Africa can plug-in June 2019 About the Author Opeyemi Praise is a Saïd Business School (University of Oxford) trained FinTech enthusiast. He studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University. He has many years of experience in ICT/Telecoms. His interest in Finance and FinTech drove him to write CFA Level 1 which he passed in January 2019. He is also trained in Financial Modelling and Valuation Analysis. He is an MBA Candidate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He can be reached at ope.praise@yahoo.com. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/opepraise
  • 2. Introduction On June 18th , 2019 Facebook officially announced its crypto-currency called Libra which will be operational by 2020. Libra combines the strength of the legacy crypto-currency and firmed-up their weaknesses. The weaknesses of legacy crypto-currency is in their ideology; which is anti-government and anti-capitalist. The founding fathers of Crypto-currency hated the control of government and the schemes of big companies. The strong aversion of legacy crypto-currency for financial institution (owing to the same aversion for capitalism) is an undoing. Facebook Libra embraces all the advantages of legacy crypto (Blockchain, Cryptography, Security, Transparency etc) in one hand and openness to governmental control, big corporations and collaborations. This makes Libra a tool for commerce (cross- border or “in-border”) with low volatility. Feature of Libra and Why It Is Different from Other Crypto-Currencies Libra has a number of good attributes that make it very robust, reliable and acceptable. We will evaluate briefly each of these attributes.  Asset-Backed. Libra will be backed by historically stable securities like low-volatility government securities; this makes Libra low-volatility crypto-currency unlike Bitcoin that derive its value from undulating wave of sentiments. See below the volatility of Bitcoin in five years. The value of Bitcoin is very unstable and easily affected by the slightest sentiments. Volatility of Bitcoin (with Dollar) in Five Years. {Image Credit; Google.com}  Governance Structure. Libra will be governed by the independent Libra Association. There will be 100 members; 27 of which are already Founding Members - these are successful global corporations.  Accessibility and Trustworthiness through Collaborations. Governments of nations had concerns with Bitcoin. It was feared that it will be used to aid money laundering, buy illegal harms and can be used as means of payment for transactions in the under-world (especially the dark web). These are valid reasons to fight crypto. And it turned out they were right; Silk Road
  • 3. proved so. Crypto-currency became the means for settlement in the dark web. Libra, on the other hand, seeks to collaborate with governments of nations, financial regulators and big corporations. France Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire requested that Facebook provides guarantees that Libra will not be used to fund terrorism. There will be challenges but they definitely do not outweigh the benefits Libra brings to the 21st century peoples of the world. Benefits and Impacts of Libra  Cheaper and Faster Transactions. Cross-border and “in-border” trades will be cheaper. Bitcoin did a great deal in facilitating this but Libra will do much more as it is projected to have a bigger and wider acceptance. Facebook leveraging on its social media platforms which currently are subscribed by 2.7 billion people will give a major push. Libra will scale much more than Bitcoin, Etherium and other Altcoins, all combined.  Growth of Cross-Border E-commerce. Lack of universally acceptable currency has been one of the challenges of cross-border e-commerce transactions. The advent of Libra will help facilitate those transactions. E-commerce business will be able to scale faster and become global in little or no time. This will cause growth of the e-commerce companies in their countries of operations and also bigger growth for logistic companies in countries of delivery.  Growth of Crypto-currency Remittances Industry. Crypto-currency remittances industry is currently being powered by Bitcoin. Companies like BitPesa should beginning to plan to migrate to Libra, leveraging on its acceptance and stability.  Restructuring of Financial Services Sector. Bank will have to collaborate with FinTech companies and take advantage of Blockchain technology. Regulators will have to be open to FinTechs and redesign regulations that drive openness, security and prosperity of every person.  Smart Contract. Libra is not just a crypto-currency but also a platform for smart contracts. Contract between two parties can be scheduled and clauses can be triggered by actions or inactions of either parties. Bills can be paid automatically, service can be bought unmanned. Robo-services companies can also leverage Libra’s smart contract. Concerns! And Yes, We Need Answers. There are number of concerns that potential users of Libra, regulators and government of nations have. Some of them are as listed below. Highlights * Libra will be backed by historically stable securities like low-volatility government securities; this makes Libra low-volatility crypto-currency unlike Bitcoin that derive its value from undulating wave of sentiments. *Governments of nations had concerns with Bitcoin. It was feared that it will be used to aid money laundering, buy illegal harms, as means of payment for transactions in the under-world. These are valid reasons to fight crypto. And it turned out they were right; Silk Road proved so.
  • 4.  Data Privacy and International Data Hosting. Regulators in many nations have regulations that discourage hosting citizens’ data outside of their geographical territories. Although Calibra has been said to help handle data privacy issues of Libra, the international data hosting issues must also be looked at.  AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing of Terrorism). Libra will have to synchronize with all the different AML jurisdictions; this will eliminate Bruno Le Maire’s fear of funding terrorism with Libra.  Undermining Bitcoin and Other Legacy Crypto. Libra should facilitate integrations with other crypto- currencies. It is not yet clear how this will pan out but Bitcoin with market capitalization of $191 billion sure has a place in the FinTechs.  Downplaying African Market. PayPal was restrictive of African market at the inception. Libra should learn from this. African companies and nations should be well represented in Libra Association. Libra should lash on the opportunity of reaching the unbanked in Africa. Africa has an appreciable mobile network and low cost of smart phones which will drive Libra penetration in Africa. Africa should have several validator nodes. Let’s Bring It Home. How Can Africa Position Itself for Libra? How can the nations in Africa take advantage of Libra? The following points address practical ways we can take advantage of Libra.  Africa Crypto Exchanges (NairaEx. etc) need to form a coalition to negotiate for validator nodes and seats in Libra Association. This will help having a common front in discourses especially the ones that affect Africa.  African FinTech Start-ups should leverage Libra; Bitcoin powered remittance solution will soon be powered by Libra; BitPesa and other start-up in the remittances space should position themselves for the coming change. It might be a co-existence of both Libra and Bitcoin or a total takeover of Libra.  African Regulators should be open to adopt crypto-currencies. Africa should not always be laggards. We can be early adopters. We don’t have to get late to the party and settle for leftovers. There will be a total revamping of regulatory policies so as to accommodate the burgeoning Libra crypto. Regulatory gaps should be closed out so as to prevent crimes and also not kill a winning idea. Highlights *Crypto-currency remittances industry are currently being powered by Bitcoin. Companies like BitPesa should beginning to plan to migrate to Libra leveraging on its acceptance and stability. *Bank will have to collaborate with FinTech companies and take advantage of Blockchain technology. Regulators will have to be open to FinTechs and redesign regulations that drive openness, security and prosperity of every person.
  • 5. With Russian Central Bank considering its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that is gold- backed, the dynamism of crypto-currency is fast changing. And it is not only Russia that is considering having its own crypto; England, Sweden, Uruguay and Spain are also taking it seriously. Where is Africa in all of these? With this being the trend, it will soon be unheard-of to hear the government of any nation stifling use of crypto-currency at the regulatory level.  Big Telco should not be left out. Vodafone Group is one of the 27 founding members with a seat at Libra Association already. The big Telcos in Africa must not be left out. MTN, Airtel, Econet, Liquid Telecoms, Glo etc must form a strong coalition to have their places in Libra Association; especially because many Telcos in Africa are now divesting into FinTechs. Central Bank of Nigeria has put up regulation, procedure and licensing for Mobile Money (Payment Service Banking {PSB} License). MTN Nigeria and other telcos have secured their licenses for Mobile Money. References 1. Cover Page Image Credit: https://www.france24.com/en/20190618-facebook-launch-global- libra-cryptocurrency-internet 2. Libra Association Members, “An Introduction to Libra”, Libra White Paper, accessed June 23rd 2019, [https://libra.org/en-US/white-paper/] 3. Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, Bitcoin White Paper, accessed June 23rd 2019, [https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf] 4. John Isige, “French Minister Bruno Le Maire is asking Facebook “for some guarantees,” regarding Libra”, Web Content, accessed June 23rd 2019, [https://www.fxstreet.com/cryptocurrencies/news/french-minister-bruno-le-maire-is-asking- facebook-for-some-guarantees-regarding-libra-201906181132] 5. Wikipedia, “Central Bank Digital Currency”, Web Content, accessed June 22rd 2019, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Bank_Digital_Currency] 6. Daniel Palmer, “Russia’s Central Bank Is Considering Launching a Digital Currency”, Web Content, accessed June 22rd 2019, [https://www.coindesk.com/russias-central-bank-is- considering-launching-a-digital-currency] 7. BitPesa Team, Web Content, accessed June 22rd 2019, [https://www.bitpesa.co/] 8. Central Bank of Nigeria Team, “Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria”, Web Content, accessed June 24th 2019, [https://www.cbn.gov.ng/Out/2018/FPRD/OCTOBER%202018%20EXPOSURE%20PAYMENT%20 BANK.pdf] Highlights * With Russia Central Bank considering its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that is gold-backed, the dynamism of crypto-currency is fast changing. And it is not only Russia that is considering having its own crypto; England, Sweden, Uruguay and Spain are also taking it seriously. Where is Africa in all of these?