Much of the commentary about Facebook’s proposed Libra coin has focused on its defects as a cryptocurrency – centralized governance, weak privacy protections – or as a payment processing system – low throughput, inability to handle multiple currencies. I think it’s more interesting to examine the process for creating Libra rather than specific technical features.
But Libra is a work-in-progress. Its whitepaper describes aspirations, not technical design. Work has begun on only some of the aspirations, and they will have to be modified along the way to resolve conflicts, satisfy regulators, attract users, please investors and deal with unanticipated issues. The Libra slated for release in 2020 will be only a trial-size sample of the grand vision, and the mature Libra of 2025, if it survives, could be quite different from what anyone expects today.