The controversial Facebook’s Libra project has been 2019’s biggest story. However, it is not the only payments project hoping to transform the payments sector, when still ripe to throw into disarray.
As per the most recent statistics, the remittance course leading to low and middle-income nations is predicted to extend to $574 billion in 2020; and $597 billion by 2021. However, this is a sector that has been pestered by carelessness, which has been an expensive occurrence to some. The high cost on top of the rigorous laws and regulations, continue to bear an impediment to the payments sector.
Dante Disparte, the Head of Policy and Communications at the Libra Association, likens the current payments system as “walled gardens.” He notes that the current 230 million economic asylum seekers are the individuals that propel the GDP of their mother countries. This is bigger than the p2p payments, foreign direct investments or even official government aid and development assistance. However, he adds that there is no way to achieve this in a less expensive and systematic way.
Libra Tapping Payments Space
Moreover, Disparte claimed in a recent interview that the competition in the payments space is minimal; and the existing methods are “one big monopolist player or there’s a duopoly operator” running the remittance sector. He also touched on the Libra project exploring this opportunity. He said:
“If we introduce the opportunity for digital wallet providers to emerge that are interoperable, that’s a big game-changer for the world. To do that right, of course, means you have to go through the process we’re going through now – build a governance model that can withstand the the the vagaries and the vicissitudes of any one organizations and association but also build a model that could achieve a regulatory standard that protects consumers.”
In addition, the lack of infrastructure has led to slow digital currency and remittance engagement. However, in the case that Facebook’s Libra project receives regulatory approval, it will go head-to-head with an experienced figurehead in the industry; Ripple. The blockchain firm has multi-partnerships under its wing.
Will Libra Disrupt the Remittance Space?
As per the initial expectations, Facebook expects the Libra cryptocurrency to launch within the first half of 2020. The global stablecoin is designed to enable users to be able to initiate payments using Facebook and WhatsApp and stored in its digital wallet called Calibra.
The main focus of the Libra project is on developing countries and the unbanked. However, it remains to be seen which companies the project will partner within these regions because their targets are not expected to book Uber or buy hamburgers. The ineptitude to bring value is expected to make make it hard to sell in the particular regions especially; since it will disrupt the local players on top of limiting the government’s oversight on the banking system.
In addition to this, Libra will facilitate payments regardless of whether the parties involved are criminals or not; whether they are under sanctions or not. Facebook will have to provide good proof that it will not facilitate terrorism. Given how the social media giants handle their social network, this will be a difficult task.
In conclusion, the stablecoin will have to get rid of many middlemen (in this case banks) from the market. However, they still need banks in their loop. In order for Libra users to use it, they will have to convert fiat into Libra. Additionally, if its target is the over $500-billion-dollar remittances market, there is a need for a smooth transition from Libra back to local currency. These are the areas where banks will be required.