Facebook-backed Libra Association renamed as Diem

The company is expected to launch its first cryptocurrency in limited format next month

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen on representations of virtual currency in front of the Libra logo in this illustration picture, June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Libra Association, a Facebook-backed independent digital payment group, changed its name to Diem to reinforce its “organisational independence” as it looks to secure regulatory approvals.

"Now transitioning to the name Diem denotes a new day for the project," Geneva-based Diem Association said in a statement.

The association will build a safe, secure and compliant payment system that empowers people and businesses around the world, it added.

The new identity signalled the project’s “growing maturity and independence”, according to Stuart Levey, chief executive of Diem Association.

“The Diem project will provide a simple platform for FinTech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost [and] highly secure transactions,” Mr Levey said.

“We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion – expanding access to those who need it most … simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct.”

The association is also expected to change the name of its eponymous currency to Diem Dollar or just Diem, which means “day” in Latin.

Diem said it has hired a group of professionals to help lead the association and Diem Networks, the subsidiary that is the regulated payment system operator, to get the regulatory approvals prior to the official launch.

“This is a stellar group of executives and having the executive committee of Diem Networks in place alongside existing leaders and colleagues is a critical step for Diem to operate with appropriate autonomy,” Mr Levey said.

The renaming of its association is the latest in a series of changes made to Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, which launched in June last year.

In May, Facebook renamed Calibra – the digital wallet it designed to store cryptocurrency – as Novi.

In March, it was reported that Facebook is redesigning the whole project as its key partners backed out amid mounting resistance from regulators.

At the time of launch, Facebook said its cryptocurrency project would revolutionise the global payments system – giving a safe option to the unbanked to transfer money. The social media company estimates there are nearly 1.7 billion adults worldwide without a bank account or access to financial services.

However, several high-profile partners backed away after Libra received a frosty reception from lawmakers, particularly in the US where Facebook's record on data privacy was criticised.

The regulators said it could potentially facilitate money laundering, terrorist financing and enable anti-competitive activity and lead to "new, coercive forms" of debt collection if a social media company ventures into finance.

Libra has been delayed many times over the past year.

However, a Financial Times report last month said that Facebook could launch its digital currency as soon as January but in a limited format.

“The evolution of the project results from constructive ongoing engagement with governments, regulators and other key stakeholders,” said Mr Levey.

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