Banks and financial institutions are interested in joining the Libra Association, the group's chief operating officer and interim managing director, Bertrand Perez, told CNBC this week. There are currently no banks among the 21 members of Facebook's cryptocurrency project.
Perez's comments follow the recent exodus of several major payment companies from the association, including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Stripe. E-commerce company eBay and Booking Holdings, the online travel company that runs Kayak.com and Priceline.com have also pulled out.
"There's only one Visa, one Mastercard, I will not tell you that we have the equivalent, but I will tell you that we have reputable companies that are also very active in the financial and banking space," Perez said.
The exits of Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe and PayPal are a major blow to the project, whose development has been scrutinized by government officials on both sides of the Atlantic.
Despite the setback, Perez expressed confidence that the Libra Association will gain 100 members by the time the project launches. He said the association is expected to make announcements about its membership in the coming months.
It's not clear if the recent departures will affect the timing of the project, which Facebook has said it plans to roll out in 2020. But David Marcus, the head of Libra's digital wallet, Calibra, told Yahoo Finance the defections have not put the project in jeopardy.
He said he respects the companies' decisions to leave the project and thanked them for having "the courage to look at potentially disrupting themselves."
Marcus warned Thursday, however, that while U.S. officials try to figure out how to regulate Libra, China is trying to stand up a digital payments system with global reach, according to Bloomberg.
"The future in five years, if we don't have a good answer, is basically China re-wiring" a large part of the world "with a digital renminbi running on their controlled blockchain," Marcus said.
The Libra project's remaining 21 members finalized the association's charter and leadership council at a meeting Monday in Geneva. The council appointed Marcus to a five-person board of directors.
That development, Marcus told reporters Thursday night, according to Politico, means Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can no longer speak for the Libra Association. "He can't be the face of it," Marcus said, referring to the Libra Association's 20 additional members.
The formalization of the council may hamper Congress's planned questioning of Zuckerberg regarding Facebook's cryptocurrency plans, set for Wednesday.
Facebook's social responsibility and privacy practices have come under fire since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and lawmakers have expressed concerns over how Libra might be used for anti-money laundering.
Overseas, European Central Bank Director Benoit Coeure said global financial regulators have no plans to ban Libra or other stablecoins. The tokens, however, will have to comply with the "highest regulatory standards," Coeure told Bloomberg.