We first began hearing rumblings of what was then called Project Libra last December, but now we know that Facebook is aiming to launch its own cryptocurrency, internally called GlobalCoin, by the first quarter of next year in about a dozen countries, thanks to a report from the BBC.
Facebook has hit the ground running and is in talks with many stakeholders about its plans for a digital currency network already. Mark Zuckerberg has met with Bank of England governor Mark Carney to discuss the risks and opportunities personally last month. Facebook is also in talks with officials from the US Treasury on operational and regulatory issues. If Facebook could work with government officials and central banks to keep the value of GlobalCoin stable, perhaps by pegging it to a currency like the US Dollar, it may be able to get around one of the key barriers to adoption of cryptocurrencies and earn consumer trust.
Blockchain technology can allow people to send money faster and at a lower cost, even across borders, by circumventing traditional banking. As such, Facebook is talking to Western Union to find "cheaper and faster ways for people without a bank account to send and receive money" according to the BBC report. That could mean it is focusing on developing countries, like India, in particular for its initial rollout.
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is talking to merchants directly about offering lower transaction fees in exchange for accepting the currency. Ensuring a sufficient number of shops will actually take GlobalCoin as payment, may give incentive for people to trade in their dollars for digital coins. It would also loosen the grip of major card networks and the dreaded 2-3 percent transactions fees they usually charge, which would be great for businesses and consumers alike.
What's next? In the coming weeks, a small group of co-founders will launch an association based in Switzerland, and that company will reveal more details about its plans this summer. But, for now, we know that it aims to begin testing its cryptocurrency this year, and that the rollout is scheduled for the first quarter of 2020 in around a dozen countries.
We'll keep you posted as this story unfolds. Would you invest in a cryptocurrency by Facebook? Let us know what you think in the comments.