The telecoms firm joins eBay, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe and Visa in quitting the association set up to develop a new global currency that would work across Facebook’s suite of apps.
“We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.
“We remain fully committed to that goal and feel we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on [mobile payments platform] M-Pesa.”
Facebook announced Libra last year, claiming it would serve the 1.7 billion people in the world who don’t have access to traditional financial services – the so-called ‘unbanked’. But since it was unveiled in 2019, it has faced significant criticism from financial regulators.
In December, the Swiss president said Libra would not be accepted by central banks and had therefore “failed” in its current form.
Politicians in the UK and US have also expressed concerns about the digital currency, while French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said in September that he would block the development of Libra on European soil because it poses a threat to “monetary sovereignty”.
On Tuesday, the European Central Bank joined a coalition of central banks to explore the possibility of developing its own digital currency backed by central banks.
Despite the criticism and the latest setback, Libra said the digital currency’s development would continue without Vodafone.
Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications at the Libra Association, said in a statement: “Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.”