Alexander Lipton, a connection science fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and adjunct professor of mathematics at New York University (NYU), has claimed that Libra’s white paper copied concepts for a coin proposed in his academic work.
Lipton co-authored the paper “Digital trade coin: towards a more stable digital currency” in 2018. In a July 26 interview with CoinDesk, Lipton said:
“Without being particularly obnoxious, I can tell you that the actual structure of Libra is pretty much lifted verbatim from the paper which Sandy Pentland and Thomas Hardjono and I published last year.”
Additionally, Lipton noted that this work was “not mentioned in the Libra document at all,” and that some of the same ideas were presented in an earlier version of the paper with Pentland, which received the cover spot for an issue of Scientific American.
While the structure of the paper may be the same, some details of implementation are not. Lipton mentions that the paper’s proposed “Tradecoin” (DTC) would likely be backed by traditional commodities. The authors wrote:
“For instance, depending on their resources and abilities, sponsors can contribute oil, gold, base metals and agricultural commodities. Given that storage of significant amounts of the above is difficult and costly, it is natural to use collateral, which is in storage already, thus making stored commodities economically productive.”
In his recent interview, Lipton confirmed that the way Facebook is backing their virtual currency is not what the authors had in mind for their proposal: “we were thinking about raw material producers, supra-national organizations, and, possibly, a couple of large-scale payment providers, but certainly not the likes of Uber.”
Monetary theory and issues with Libra
While Libra has billed itself as offering financial inclusion for people around the world, in its white paper as well as in one of the recent Libra hearings, Lipton cautioned that Libra’s design could cause massive inflation in developing countries:
“In developing countries, it will cause enormous inflation because the amount of money will be kind of doubled, roughly speaking, in fact much more than doubled. […] I am not a big fan of quantity theory of money, but I am absolutely certain that as the amount of money explodes, prices will go up.”
More copied ideas?
On June 22, Ethereum World News also reported that the decentralized public network project Hedera Hashgraph also claim that Libra copied ideas from them, specifically the Libra Association’s governance model.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, research by the Wall Street Journal near the tail-end of 2018 indicated that hundreds of initial coin offering white papers — roughly 16% — were flagged for possible fraudulent activity, improbable returns and plagiarism.