With the long-awaited Libra white paper, Facebook is showing off its blockchain smarts, and making a bid for crypto credibility.
Released Tuesday morning, the 29-page paper describes a protocol designed to evolve as it powers a new global currency. More than a year in the making, the document opens by trumpeting the new blockchain’s ambitious goal:
“The Libra Blockchain is a decentralized, programmable database designed to support a low-volatility cryptocurrency that will have the ability to serve as an efficient medium of exchange for billions of people around the world.”
As a first step toward achieving the “decentralized” part, the protocol has been turned over to a new organization, the Libra Association, whose members will hold separate tokens allowing them on-chain voting rights to govern decisions about Libra.
“Over time, it’s designed to transition the node membership from these founding members who have a stake in the creation of the ecosystem to people who hold Libra and have a stake in the ecosystem as a whole,” Ben Maurer, Facebook’s blockchain technical lead, told CoinDesk in an exclusive interview.
In short, Libra is designed to be a high throughput, global blockchain, one that’s built with programmable money in mind but limits how much users can do initially as it evolves from prototype to a robust ecosystem.
Unlike many other blockchains, Libra seems laser-focused on payments and other financial use cases for consumers.
But the white paper itself seems geared to demonstrate both Facebook’s proposed advances to the science of distributed consensus and its appreciation for what has been built so far.
Indeed, over the last several months, many sources told CoinDesk they had visited Facebook to share their perspective on decentralized technology.