DATA HARVESTING OUTFIT Facebook has confirmed that it'll launch its long-hyped 'Libra' cryptocurrency in 2020.
By getting into bed with payment giants MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, as well as a whole suite of partner companies like eBay, Uber and Spotify, the social network has laid the foundations down for an ecosystem to support its Libra digital money when it launches early next year.
But this isn't like Facebook's equivalent of Bitcoin. Rather, Zuck and co will set up Libra and then pass it onto a larger community to run and manage after its initial launch. Said community will be called the Libra Association and will not only govern the cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain, but will also be responsible for "evolving the ecosystem".
With partner organisations all contributing to what's being called the Libra Reserve, the cryptocurrency will have what will essentially be a pool of assets that will effectively back up every bit of Libra currency with something of actual value. In theory, this should mean it won't be as volatile a cryptocurrency as Bitcoin has been.
"This is the goal for Libra: A stable currency built on a secure and stable open-source blockchain, backed by a reserve of real assets, and governed by an independent association," stated a whitepaper from Libra.
The whitepaper spouted a load if do-gooder stuff like making it easier for people to transfer money across borders and have access to "cheap capital". Yet, by handing the reins over to the Libra Association, Facebook is effectively surrendering control of the currency it created.
But Facebook is set to benefit from having created a cryptocurrency, in that has been gearing up to accept Libra payments through its social network and Messenger services in the form of its Calibra subsidiary.
Calibra plans to provide Libra integration across Facebook's social network and services by offering things like a digital wallet and payment services on top of the blockchain that underpins Libra. Essentially, Calibra will provide the means by which people interact with Libra, which could make Calibra effectively a banking arm of Facebook.
Furthermore, Calibra will sit on the board of the Libra Association, alongside Facebook and other Libra partners, which would basically give Facebook two voices when it comes to discussing Libra's future direction.
What you reckon to that will depend on your stance on Facebook after the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal.
But regardless of that, there's a solid case that given the vast reach of Facebook's social network, by creating Libra and Calibra to support it, Mark Zuckerberg's company could be the one to make cryptocurrencies properly a mass market thing.
Given its work on AI, robots, and now cryptocurrency, Facebook doesn't look like it's becoming a wallflower any time soon. µ
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