Honestly, I was starting to think that Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project might never become a thing, but there is still some hope that we may see it reach the next stage.
This week, eCommerce giant Shopify has announced that it's joining the Libra Association, which is the support group that will oversee Facebook's crypto governance.
As explained by Shopify:
"Our mission is to make commerce better for everyone, and to do that, we spend a lot of our time thinking about how to make commerce better in parts of the world where money and banking could be far better. That’s why we decided to become a member of the Libra Association. This is one step, but not the only step we’ll be taking to be a part of the solution to this global problem."
Shopify says that, as part of the Libra Association, it will work with Facebook and other project partners to "build a payment network that makes money easier to access, and supports merchants and consumers everywhere".
This is the true promise for Libra, facilitating a process that enables cheap, easy funds exchange. Facebook would then look to benefit from this by connecting streamlined eCommerce and bill payment options into the same network - once your money is being transferred in this way, it'll be easier for people to spend on Facebook as well. Shopify will be looking to get in on the same - the idea begins with improved funds transfer, then expands into a wider network of online shopping, built into a single stream.
But Libra remains some way off being a reality. Most of the initial partners for the project have since pulled out, while various government groups have raised concerns, and even flagged blocks of the payment network, due to concerns around its governance and conflicts with existing systems.
Most notable on this front is India, where more funds are transferred through remittance than anywhere else. At the Libra launch event last June, Facebook confirmed that India would not be part of its initial rollout plan for the project, due to concerns around cryptocurrency from Indian regulators.
Will the addition of Shopify as a partner help resolve such?
In some ways, it gives the project more credibility - but then again, with the noted, aligned interest from Shopify in regards to eCommerce, it's seemingly not a major vote in support of the project, at least from a regulatory standpoint. Over the last year, key financial partners like Visa, MasterCard and Stripe have all stepped back from the Libra Association, along with PayPal and eBay. Those are the backers that would likely imbue more regulatory confidence in the project, and in comparison, the addition of Shopify likely doesn't add a heap.
But still, it may renew some level of optimism in the troubled cryptocurrency project, and it does show that Facebook hasn't given up on it in favor of Facebook Pay and WhatsApp Pay just yet.
I mean, it still seems like that's where Facebook is headed, but we could still see the rise of Libra at some stage in 2020.