“It was a neat idea that’ll never happen, and I have nothing else to say about it.” So said JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon on Friday, giving Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project one last kick at the end of what had already been a brutal week. Industry sources have told the FT that the decisive factor was a letter that Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown and Brian Schatz sent to Mastercard, Visa and Stripe. It warned that proceeding with the project would expose even their non-Libra businesses to heavier regulatory scrutiny.
A week earlier, Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago staged something of a mass exodus from the project, just days after PayPal headed for the door. Booking.com later joined them, leaving Libra with just 19 of its original 26 members. On the sidelines of last week's Institute of International Finance (IIF) meetings in DC, where Mr Dimon spoke so freely, other bankers casually referred to Libra in the past tense and marvelled at the project's spectacular misjudgment of the regulatory environment. Libra was only unveiled in June but rumblings of trouble were brewing as early as July, when Libra’s leader David Marcus, formerly of PayPal, testified about the venture in Congress. He got a chilly reception.