The BBC apparently has gotten the inside scoop on what’s going on with Facebook and its upcoming cryptocurrency project, Libra. The media outlet is reporting that the social media giant is putting the final touches on its digital currency – now called GlobalCoin, not Facebook Coin – and that it will be launched sometime early next year. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
BBC states that Facebook is already planning to test its crypto option by the end of this year and that it has been discussing the opportunities and risks of launching a digital currency with the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. Carney had stated last year that the Bank of England could introduce its own digital currency, so he is apparently amenable to the legitimization of the space.
Mark Zuckerberg reportedly met with Carney last month to discuss the project and is said to also be in talks with the US Treasury to determine operational and regulatory guidelines on that side of the pond.
The digital currency is expected to provide an affordable and secure means for making payments for everyone, even for those who don’t have a bank account. Given Facebook’s global reach, it would certainly be in a position to do so. Plus, as the owner of WhatsApp and Instagram, it would have an immediate and large customer base spanning billions of consumers around the world.
Project Libra will apparently partner with banks and brokers across the globe to allow consumers to exchange fiat for the GlobalCoin. In order to help facilitate those operations, the company is setting up an office in Switzerland to oversee the project. Facebook is also in talks with eCommerce retailers to work deals to have those accept the currency in exchange for lower transaction fees.
The idea of a global currency that doesn’t require a bank account is a noble one, given the prevalence of non-banked citizens around the world. However, the issue of whether or not Facebook is the appropriate company to be leading the charge is stirring up debate. Facebook has a history of not being able to protect user data and there are concerns that it might not be able to offer the level of security needed for financial assets.
Facebook also tried to offer a digital currency ten years ago, which failed after less than two years. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right, but the company’s Facebook Credits never gained traction and had to be pulled.
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