Comparing Algorand vs. Libra: The Road to Decentralization

August 12, 2019

“Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.” – Santosh Kalwar

Trust is in short supply today. The lack of public trust in governments, institutions, and private companies is taking its toll on society in increasingly costly ways. In many cases, this erosion of trust hinges squarely on technological shortcomings and a distinct lack of oversight

Thankfully, blockchain technology and decentralized applications present an opportunity to restore public trust.  

The Road to Minimally Viable Trust

Instead of relying on the carefully crafted branding efforts of centralized tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon to build and maintain trust, blockchain technology makes vetting the source of truth transparent, accessible, and verifiable. This is the vein in which the groundbreaking blockchain platform, Algorand, operates: 

Don’t trust, verify.

So, how does it work? How does Algorand compare to other borderless blockchain solutions like Facebook’s Libra? And what’s the benefit to users? In this article, we compare the goals, governance, and applications of Algorand vs. Libra to flesh out hype from hyperbole. It is the first article in an ongoing series.

Algos and Libras: Goals, Governance, and Consensus

Algorand is a blockchain startup focused on “building trusted infrastructure for the borderless economy.” Its goal is to create a decentralized infrastructure that extends the benefits of fast, cheap, and secure transactions to the global economy. This includes making payments in emerging markets far more accessible, affordable, and easy to use. 

Libra’s mission sounds strikingly similar: “A simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.” To be fair, this is the modus operandi of most blockchain networks. Make transactions better than the status quo. But Algorand stands out in several important ways.

Libra Talks the Talk

What separates Algorand from Libra is the difference between vision, mission, and execution. 

Facebook sees cryptocurrency as an opportunity to grow its already massive global footprint. Its mission of wanting to connect and empower everybody seems to justify its means to an end. But not everybody is buying it. 

This became readily apparent during the recent Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Committee hearings. Senators came prepared to ask difficult questions and made a lasting impact. While David Marcus, who heads up Facebook’s Libra project and spoke on behalf of its Calibra wallet, stood firm in his prepared statements, many members of congress pushed back. 

We see this again in Congressman Duffy’s remarks addressing the policy consequences of social and financial discrimination: