First Sovereign Wealth Fund Joins Latest Round of Libra Additions

Temasek, one of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds, is among the latest companies to join the Libra Association, the consortium Facebook set up to create a global digital currency.

The addition may help explain why the Singapore dollar has figured prominently in Libra’s plans from the early days. In the initial vision of a new currency backed by a basket of different sovereign currencies, the “sing” was included alongside the U.S. dollar, the euro and the British pound. And when Libra pivoted last month to focusing on stablecoins pegged to existing fiat currencies, it mentioned the same four currencies as examples.

Temasek “brings a differentiated position as an Asia-focused investor,” Libra said Thursday in a statement that did not quote any individuals from the fund. 

Libra also announced that two cryptocurrency-focused investment firms in San Francisco had joined the association: Paradigm, co-founded by Coinbase veteran Fred Ehrsam, and Slow Ventures. (Coinbase has been a Libra member from the start.) The three additions bring the total number of organizations on Libra’s governing council to 27.

Temasek manages $216 billion in assets for Singapore’s government and has previously shown a penchant for blockchain ventures

“Temasek sees innovative technologies such as blockchain as transformative enablers of growth,” Libra said. “Temasek’s efforts to support and advance the use of blockchain technology across a range of use cases, asset classes and sectors, reflects its drive to explore, develop and invest in solutions to bring about a better, smarter and more sustainable world.”

The additions also increase the influence of financiers on Libra’s now 27-member governing council. With eight members, they’re now the single largest group by industry and together wield nearly 30% of members’ control over the global stablecoin project.

The three newcomers join investment firms Andressen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital and Union Square Ventures, all founding members of Libra. By comparison, the Association’s nonprofit contingent numbered five after last month’s onboarding of Heifer International

Ehrsam said Libra’s power to take crypto mainstream appealed to his venture capital firm. 

“Bridging the gap to a larger mainstream user base is the next step in the evolution of the space,” he told CoinDesk. “Any network which has the potential to normalize crypto societally and offer distribution at this scale is valuable.”

Slow Ventures Principal Jill Carlson and Temasek associate director Antony Lewis did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

In a press statement, Libra Vice Chairman Dante Disparte said that the three additions show our commitment to building a diverse group of organizations that will contribute to the governance, technological roadmap and launch readiness of the Libra payment system.”

Libra did not respond to questions concerning the weight of investment firms on its council. 

The consortium had initially hoped to onboard 100 members by the first half of 2020, its original target launch date. But those plans were derailed by fearful regulators whose criticism set off a hemorrhage of founding members and pushed back the launch. 

In response, Libra recently pared back its vision and has slowly begun to replenish its ranks. Last week, it added a CEO with a background in institutional banking and government finance.

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