Libra chair bashes Bitcoin’s payment credentials

Written by Peter Walker
08/01/20

The Libra Association’s vice chairman has argued that Bitcoin has no future as a payment system.

Speaking at the Digital Money Forum at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday, Dante Disparte commented: “Bitcoin as an asset class has proven that mathematical scarcity can support an incredibly exciting asset – it’s not a means of payment; it just isn’t.”

The Libra Association is a group of tech and financial services companies assembled to launch Facebook’s digital currency and e-wallet Libra, aiming to help the millions of unbanked people around the world.

“The bottom rung of the ladder of economic mobility is payment access,” Disparte told the audience, adding that this was what drew him to the project. “How do you drive mass adoption?” he asked, adding: “How do you remove insidious levels of friction that basically make it cost-prohibitive to give people access to payments?”

Akin Sawyerr, strategy and governance lead on the Decred autonomous digital currency project, was also on the panel discussing ‘the Libra effect’ and responded to Disparte’s criticisms of Bitcoin’s inability to scale or overcome existing friction points.

“I’m not convinced that a council of self-interested companies can do money better than a decentralised system,” he stated. “The only way to really get there is to empower the individuals to have some base-level sovereignty.”

Facebook announced last June that the Libra digital currency would be ready to launch in 2020, but since then it has run into stiff opposition from regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

By October, an exodus of financial services firms meant the Libra Association's membership was down to 21 firms, with Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe and PayPal all abandoning the project.