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The co-founder of blockchain startup Wireline, Lucas Geiger, announced Tuesday “OpenLibra”, a permissionless fork of Libra, the controversial crypto network led by Facebook. Geiger announced the project at Devcon 5, Ethereum’s annual conference which was held in Osaka, Japan this week.
The developers released a virtual machine that runs a permissionless version of Libra, called Movement, built on the Tendermint blockchain protocol.
According to the firm’s website, OpenLibra is “An alternative to Facebook's Libra, that places emphasis on open governance and economic decentralization.” Those behind the OpenLibra project think that Facebook’s project will ultimately be successful, so the point is to create a fork that is compatible with Libra Coin, “replacing what's concerning in a non-adversarial way.”
Amongst the issues the founders of the OpenLibra project have with Facebook’s network is that it is “distributed, but not decentralized,” that it is not permissionless, that it is without privacy guarantees, and this it is run by a “plutocracy”—a network of 27 ultra-rich companies including Mastercard, Visa, and Uber.
By comparison, the OpenLibra project is run by “a loose collective of individuals.” including several employees from Wireline and Cosmos. It has no "association members", "partners", neither "employees" nor "leaders" it reads.
OpenLibra is also concerned that because Libra controls the ratio of coins in the basket, it will become “the internet’s central bank,” undermining the authority of sovereign central to determine monetary policy. It also enables surveillance finance, defined as “One's ability to engage financially (e.g. borrow in Libra) will potentially be determined by their social graph and online activity.”
OpenLibra is an attempt to push back against some of those concerns. According to French billionaire and Libra investor Xavier Niel Friday, Libra is “inevitable”. But with launch partners dropping out, Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the US Congress and ministers vowing regulation of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, it has some tough hurdles to overcome before it launches. If regulators manage to neuter Libra completely, OpenLibra might never be necessary.