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Facebook may pull-out Calibra from India, world’s largest WhatsApp market; early warning signs?

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Facebook may pull-out Calibra from biggest WhatsApp market, India; early warning signs?
Source: Pixabay


It’s been less than 48 hours since Facebook unveiled its “cryptocurrency” Libra, which will operate on a private blockchain and have its own wallet. With the fiat currency-backed digital asset a year out from its official 2020 launch, the social media giant seems to have met its first major roadblock.

Facebook made clear of its intentions to provide financial power to 1.7 billion of the world’s under-banked population. But, it looks like that number is likely to dip. India, the touted top destination for the cryptocurrency given the user base of WhatsApp and the country’s huge remittance market, will pose strong regulatory resistance.

Tech Crunch, the technology-centric media outlet, reported that Calibra, Facebook’s in-house digital asset wallet, will not be rolling out to several top Libra markets. Citing a Calibra spokesperson as the source, the article suggested that the wallet will not be made available in countries that are sanctioned by the United States and those that have an outright ban on virtual currencies. The spokesperson stated,

“The Libra Blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate.”

Joining forces with India, countries such as China, North Korea, and Iran will also presumably face restrictions, given the two reasons stated above.

A clash or cooperation might be in the works in India as the Facebook-owned messaging application, WhatsApp, already has a peer-to-peer payment platform in the country. WhatsApp Pay, while yet to be launched and still in its beta phase, is run in partnership with the government-backed payments project, United Payments Interface [UPI].

Speaking to Economic Times, a Facebook spokesperson stated that cooperation will be the trodden path, not just in India, but around the globe.

“We expect Calibra to work on WhatsApp and be available globally.”

Indian government officials have already displayed a negative stance towards cryptocurrencies, with a recent response to an RTI application revealing the government’s apprehension about the same.

Finally, despite India likely to be the favorite and most prosperous destination for Facebook Libra, coupled with the growing cryptocurrency anxiety of the Indian banking and political elite, one would think that the social media giant would engage in dialogue with the nation’s government for its consideration.

On the contrary, ET reported,

“Facebook has not filed any application with RBI (Reserve Bank of India) for its cryptocurrency in India.”





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