Facebook-Backed Cryptocurrency Project Libra Rebrands With a New Name: Meet Diem

Facebook-Backed Cryptocurrency Project Libra Rebrands With a New Name: Meet Diem

(Credit: The Diem Association)

You may have forgotten about Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, but it’s back(Opens in a new window)—with a new name. The Libra Association has rebranded itself as Diem, the Latin word for “day,” in an effort to gain approval from financial regulators across the globe.  

“We are excited to introduce Diem—a new name that signals the project’s growing maturity and independence,” Diem Association CEO Stuart Levey, a former US Treasury Department under secretary, said in a statement.

The rebranding occurs as Diem is preparing to launch next month as a single coin, “backed one-for-one by the dollar,” according(Opens in a new window) to The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources. However, the launch is dependent on approval from Swiss financial regulators.  

Facebook originally launched the cryptocurrency project last year to give internet users an easier way to send money without needing to register through a bank. However, regulators—including US lawmakers—have been resistant to the plans, arguing it would give too much financial power to a tech giant known for repeatedly mishandling users’ private data. 

In October 2019, the project faced another setback when the biggest partners on the project—including PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Mastercard and Visa—pulled out of the Libra Association. Since then, PayPal has decided to support buying and selling select competing cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, over the company’s app and Venmo. 

Levey reiterated that Diem is focused on meeting “regulatory expectations,” while ensuring consumers and businesses can send and receive money instantly at low costs. Levey also emphasized the Diem Association has a top team of financial executives in place that’s helped make the virtual currency ready for launch. 

“The Association has committed that it will proceed only upon receiving regulatory approval,” today’s statement added. 

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Interestingly, the Diem Association’s website(Opens in a new window) also avoids mentioning Facebook. The group insists it’s an independent organization based in Switzerland. However, one of its board of directors is David Marcus, the head of Novi Financial(Opens in a new window), a Facebook subsidiary focused on building a digital wallet for the upcoming Diem cryptocurrency. 

Although government regulators have been resisting the project, the market for virtual currencies has been bullish in recent months. The value of Bitcoin has soared back to its 2017 height at over $19,000 per coin. So it’s possible 2021 could be a good year for Facebook’s Diem effort to finally take flight.

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