Singapore's Temasek joins Facebook-backed Libra project

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings has joined the Facebook-backed Libra digital currency project which has faced intense scrutiny from global regulators worried its launch could erode national control over money.

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The entry of Temasek, which latest figures show has a portfolio value of just over S$300 billion ($210 billion), was announced by the Switzerland-based Libra Association, the entity managing the digital currency project, late Thursday.

Temasek becomes one the project’s most prominent backers after payments giants Mastercard, Visa Inc and PayPal earlier ditched the scheme.

Libra, which also added cryptocurrency investor Paradigm and private equity firm Slow Ventures to its roster, said Temasek offered a “differentiated position” as an Asia-focused investor.

In a separate statement, deputy CEO of Temasek International, Chia Song Hwee, said: “Blockchain technology can play a transformative role in payments networks by enhancing cost efficiencies, creating new business opportunities and accelerating financial inclusion.”

“Our participation in the Libra Association as a member will allow us to contribute towards a regulated global network for cost effective retail payments,” he said.

The prospect of Facebook’s 2.5 billion users adopting Libra has led to intense scrutiny from global regulators.

In April, Libra’s governing body said the planned digital currency will be linked to individual national currencies and overseen by global watchdogs, in a scaled-back revamp it hopes will win regulatory approval.

Libra is now expected to be launched between mid-November and the end of the year, later than initial plans for a launch by the end of June.

Earlier this month, Libra appointed HSBC legal chief Stuart Levey as its CEO.

Reporting by John Geddie and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Himani Sarkar