Facebook’s Libra Association adds crypto prime broker Tagomi

TechCrunch has learned that $28 million-funded crypto startup Tagomi will be the newest member of the Libra Association that governs the Facebook-backed Libra stablecoin. A formal announcement is slated for Friday or next week.

Tagomi offers a platform that helps large traders and funds easily access cryptocurrency markets. The news comes days after Libra added Shopify, a reversal of dwindling membership after major partners like Visa, PayPal and Stripe dropped out late last year.

We’ve reached out to the Libra Association and have been promised a response by Facebook’s communications team.

[Update 2/27/2020 3:30pm pacific: Libra now confirms our report that Tagomi is joining the Libra Association. “We are excited to welcome Tagomi to the Libra Association. Tagomi joins a growing group of Libra Association members committed to achieving a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of a global payment system that breaks down financial barriers for billions of people” says Libra’s head of policy and communications Dante Disparte.]

Joining Libra means Tagomi will be expected to contribute at least $10 million toward developing the cryptocurrency, with that investment eligible to reap dividends from interest earned on money kept in the Libra Reserve. Tagomi will also operate a node that validates transactions coming through the Libra blockchain.

Tagomi was founded by Jennifer Campbell, a former investor at Union Square Ventures, which is also a Libra Association Member. The company has 25 employees across five offices. Tagomi will be the 22nd member of the Libra Association, according to information from the startup’s press representative, who was apparently supposed to hold this news until later. “Tagomi is joining the Libra Foundation and Jennifer will be the newest member,” they emailed TechCrunch.

Campbell and Tagomi will offer technical and policy support to Libra in an effort to make the cryptocurrency more safe and compliant with international law. That will be critical for the Libra Association to get the green light from regulators for a launch in 2020 like it originally planned. Lawmakers in the U.S. and EU have slammed Libra in hearings and the press over its potential to facilitate money laundering, harm privacy and destabilize the global financial system.

Campbell says that her company’s legal expertise, which led to its navigating red tape to become New York’s first licensed agency brokerage for virtual currencies, could be especially helpful to the Libra Association. When asked about how the company could get Libra approved for launch, Campbell told me “It’s just a grind working with each of the regulatory bodies . . . I think it just takes some time to help educate people to understand what the mission is and what our strategy and technology looks alike and what safeguards we’ll be putting in place for KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering).”

Campbell believes Libra will eventually get the go-ahead. “We feel very confident that we’ll end up with a solution that gives regulatory confidence that we’ll be able to execute in a very safe and regulated manner before we build out this payment system.”

The full membership of the Libra Association is now:

Current Members:

Facebook’s Calibra, Tagomi, Shopify, PayU, Farfetch, Lyft, Spotify, Uber, Illiad SA, Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Xapo, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking.

Former Members:

Vodafone, Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, PayPal, Mercado Pago, Bookings Holdings, eBay.