Libra could use a return to balance. Even by Facebook standards, it's been a tumultuous few weeks for the company's nascent cryptocurrency effort. First came the departure of PayPal, the old haunt of Facebook blockchain guru David Marcus, from the Libra Association, the group that plans to administer the cryptocurrency. Then came six other defections, including Visa and Mastercard--and, Monday morning, Priceline owner Bookings Holdings. Adding salt to the wound, Facebook's new fintech subsidiary, Calibra, was slapped with a lawsuit last week over its logo, which bears a suspicious resemblance to another fintech's look.
Members of the Libra Association, a Switzerland-based group that Facebook created to oversee the project, said the shifts were a response to a global outpouring of opposition to the cryptocurrency. The criticism culminated in a hearing last October in which Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, was taken to task by members of Congress for potentially bypassing many regulatory approvals for Libra. Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook have since said they would not go forward with the project without regulatory blessing. At the time, the stridency of the opposition led to predictions that Libra would not be able to move forward, especially after several of the Libra Association's most prominent members -- including Visa, Mastercard and other financial companies -- abandoned the project. "The feedback is not at all in vain, including the criticism," said Dante Disparte, the vice chairman and head of public policy at the Libra Association.
It is the first time the license has been issued in the prefecture. It was granted Thursday based on the Cannabis Control Law. The association, made up of officials of Shinto shrines, initially applied for the license with the aim of providing cannabis to shrines across Japan. But the prefectural government turned down the application in January last year, saying that cannabis is already produced in other prefectures and that foreign-grown cannabis and chemical fibers are available as substitutes. The association, based in the city of Ise, filed for the license again in January, explaining that it plans to supply cannabis only within Mie Prefecture.