After five major payments providers pulled out last week, Facebook’s Libra currency project looked to be on the rocks.
But the remaining members have insisted it’s full steam ahead.
The 21 founding companies in the Libra Association – down from 28 when the project was first announced – met for the first time in Geneva on Monday.
A spokesman told the BBC he believed the currency was still on track to launch next year.
But, he added, it would only do so if suitable regulatory approval had been granted.
It comes after a stern warning from the G7 group of nations that Libra risked disrupting the global financial order .
That concern followed a letter to payments providers from US senators Brian Schatz and Sherrod Brown, sent on 8 October, that threatened “a high level of scrutiny from regulators not only on Libra-related payment activities, but on all payment activities”.
Libra Association spokesman Dante Disparte criticised the senators, telling the BBC the letter “stifles private market innovation”.
“At some level it confounds the regulatory process and the law-making process of free market economies,” Mr Disparte said in a phone call on Monday.
The interference created a “problematic precedent for the state of private sector innovation”, he added.
Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay, PayPal and Mercado Pago were the six firms that dropped out ahead of Monday’s meeting. On Monday morning, it was revealed that Booking Holdings – the firm behind Booking.com – had also pulled out.
The remaining 21 members all confirmed their commitment to the project at the Geneva meeting. Among them are rideshare firms Uber and Lyft, prominent venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, music streaming service Spotify, and the sales and services arm of telecoms company Vodafone.
Netherlands-based PayU is the only remaining member operating in the online payments processing sector.
“We believe that the design of the Libra ecosystem has the potential to address a number of societal needs,” a PayU spokesperson said, in a statement sent out by the Libra Association.
Search on for CEO
Of the 21 companies, representatives from five of the firms were elected to form the Libra Association’s board, with Facebook’s David Marcus among them. Bertrand Perez, a former senior director at PayPal, was appointed chief operating officer and interim managing director.
The board would soon set up a search committee to appoint a permanent chief executive, Mr Disparte said.
He added that many more firms were interested in joining the association.
“More than 1,500 organisations have expressed an interest in joining this effort,” Mr Disparte said.
“Even though aspects of that have been difficult in the last few months.”
In response to mounting concerns, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been called to appear before a congressional panel on 23 October to discuss Libra, and likely other issues involving his firm.
Mastercard, Visa, eBay and payments firm Stripe have pulled out of Facebook’s embattled cryptocurrency project, Libra.
In a statement released on Friday, eBay said it “respected” the Libra project.
“However, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member. At this time, we are focused on rolling out eBay’s managed payments experience for our customers.”
A spokesperson for Stripe said the firm supported the aim of making global payments easier.
“Libra has this potential. We will follow its progress closely and remain open to working with the Libra Association at a later stage.”
A spokesperson for Visa said: “We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association’s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”
The Libra Association, set up by Facebook to manage the project, said of the departing companies: “We appreciate their support for the goals and mission of the Libra project.
“Although the makeup of the Association members may grow and change over time, the design principle of Libra’s governance and technology, along with the open nature of this project ensures the Libra payment network will remain resilient.
“We look forward to the inaugural Libra Association Council meeting in just 3 days and announcing the initial members of the Libra Association.”
Facebook’s executive in charge of its Libra effort wrote on Twitter that losing the firms was “liberating”.
“I would caution against reading the fate of Libra into this update,” wrote David Marcus, who before joining Facebook was PayPal’s president.
“Of course, it’s not great news in the short term, but in a way it’s liberating. Stay tuned for more very soon. Change of this magnitude is hard. You know you’re on to something when so much pressure builds up.”
Last week, PayPal said it would no longer be part of the Libra Association, but did not rule out working on the project in future – prompting a strong reaction from the Association.
“Commitment to that mission is more important to us than anything else,” it said in a statement. “We’re better off knowing about this lack of commitment now.”