Facebook's GlobalCoin

Jun 24, 2019   |   by Jamesa Brown   |   Tokens & Coins

About Facebook GlobalCoin & Project Libra

A few weeks ago, the BBC reported that the cryptocurrency would be called GlobalCoin, but now it seems that won’t pan out. Reuters has reported that Facebook has registered a company called Libra Networks in Switzerland, meaning there’s a decent chance the social networking giant will stick with Libra (hence the codename Project Libra).

Facebook announced it was launching GlobalCoin last December, though the company indicated that it was looking at cryptocurrency as far back as the end of 2017. Facebook hopes to stabilize its cryptocurrency against multiple others, such as Ripple, in order for it to be used through the Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp applications. These two applications will incur zero fees through the cryptocurrency, according to Gizmodo.

Support

On June 13th, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook has signed on more than a dozen backers for its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency, which is a stablecoin that has been developed in secrecy for more than six months. Among the backers are Uber, Visa, and Paypal. Each of the new backers will invest roughly $10 million in the project as part of a governing group for the cryptocurrency. Stripe, Booking.com and Mercado Libre are also part of the project, according to the Journal, though the report does not specify what their roles are.

Those Who Aren't So Supportive

Cryptocurrency expert, Charlie Shrem, tweeted that

“I think the “FacebookCoin" is an attempt by big tech, banks, and credit card companies to lure people away from Bitcoin into “better, easier, crypto”, which is nothing more than a fiat coin being masqueraded as crypto. Millions will be fooled."

Charlie Shrem

Despite the millions of dollars that GlobalCoin has gained in support, concerns over Facebook data usage has caused many potential supporters to back away from the project altogether.

Strategic Planning

Facebook is allegedly using aggressive recruiting. They hired a team with several dozen cryptocurrency experts with annual compensation packages worth several million dollars each, one source said. It should be noted, however, this may be seen as a competitive rate for rare skill sets in Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, Facebook is aggressively pursuing partnerships with global brands such as Uber, that may someday accept GlobalCoin. Since the majority of Facebook’s 2.38 billion monthly active users live outside the United States, such partnerships would be crucial for branding this cryptocurrency as a global asset rather than an American fintech initiative.

One consultant said that Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions have put the company in a very different position than it was a decade ago. Plus, the public views bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as more secure and private than traditional payment options, which would explain why Facebook may be marketing this revamp as a blockchain project. Facebook declined to comment on how user data would be used or shared. It also declined to comment on how GlobalCoin accounts would be custodied.

“You’re creating a buffer zone of incumbents that can afford to participate,” Blockchain consultant Maya Zehavi said of Facebook’s strategy. “Instead of creating a version of Stripe with data verification with privacy for developers to offer new applications and services.”

Would a Longer Timeframe be More Realistic?

GlobalCoin is now expected to be unveiled on June 18 of this year, only a few days away. Despite reports that Facebook is gearing up to reveal its new cryptocurrency as early as next week, a source with knowledge of Facebook’s operations said the project’s software has a long way to go until it can be used. Sources attribute the delay to blockchain industry incumbents being reluctant to work on a project that doesn’t appear to have the hallmarks of a true cryptocurrency.

One source assessed that early 2020 would be a more realistic timeframe for testing, so any imminent announcements would merely be forward-looking plans.

Opportunities and Risks

Among the opportunities of GlobalCoin are the following:

  • Early adoption promotions. Facebook will almost certainly reward merchants for early acceptance of GlobalCoin, while also heavily promoting it to consumers. Merchants can look for opportunities to participate if interested.
  • Developing country Support. If an e-commerce business has customers in developing countries, GlobalCoin may be a fit. Facebook is reportedly pushing adoption in countries that are traditionally underserved by large financial institutions. Accepting GlobalCoin may provide a cost-effective way to expand a presence in those markets.
  • Lower transaction processing fees. Processing payments via GlobalCoin will almost certainly be cheaper than traditional credit card processing fees.

Conversely, here are some of its risks:

  • Privacy. Processing transactional data creates new privacy concerns for Facebook. Merchants and consumers should closely monitor how Facebook will use the data.
  • Conversion to local currency. Facebook is taking steps to help convert local currency into GlobalCoin (and vice versa) at ATMs and other exchanges.
    • Merchants should evaluate the process, timing, and expense of the conversion toensure it works for their capital needs.
  • Regulation. Facebook’s size could cause regulators worldwide to restrict or outlaw GlobalCoin. Merchants will need to monitor the legalities in their local markets.

Conclusion

GlobalCoin seems to show some promise since Facebook can afford to put so much support behind it. However, Facebook’s less than desirable reputation also comes into play as to why so many people doubt it as much as others support it. We will see what may become of the currency in the oncoming weeks.

Jamesa Brown