Image credits: CNBC
In a candid moment at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, Morgan Beller, co-creator of Meta’s erstwhile Libra digital currency project, unveiled the driving force that propelled her involvement – China. Speaking from her new role as a general partner at venture firm NFX, Beller explicitly referenced China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, a linchpin of the nation’s foreign policy.
While Beller took care to emphasize that her views did not represent Meta, the revelation sheds fresh light on the geopolitical backdrop of Libra and Meta’s objectives, revealing a concern for the Chinese Communist Party’s influence.
Libra’s fate and the ebbing enthusiasm around cryptocurrencies have been extensively covered. Yet, the geopolitical aspect, and the determination to prevent the U.S. from ceding ground to the Asian powerhouse, remains a less explored facet.
The Belt and Road Initiative, often likened to America’s Marshall Plan, has raised concerns in the West due to China’s non-democratic governance. Just this week, Germany contemplated a ban on components from Huawei and ZTE in its 5G infrastructure by 2026, citing national security risks. This move follows the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s previous prohibition on sales from these brands over similar concerns.
5G is just one arena where China seeks supremacy, with the U.S. facing potential setbacks. According to Beller, 5G marked the second phase of China’s strategy; the current focus is on space, with Libra conceived as a response to the third phase: currency.
David Marcus, co-creator of Diem and Beller’s superior during her tenure, testified before Congress in 2019 to defend Libra. Senators impressed upon Marcus that, in today’s landscape, the dollar, not nuclear arms, is the linchpin of U.S. defense. Beller contends that if one acknowledges the inexorable shift towards digital money, the U.S. government’s lag in this domain is apparent. China, she asserts, comprehends this shift, providing a significant impetus for the inception of Libra.
The revelation by Morgan Beller affords a fresh perspective on the intricate interplay of technology, geopolitics, and economic influence shaping the digital currency landscape. As the global stage continues to evolve, the ramifications of these dynamics will undoubtedly reverberate across borders.