Social media giant Facebook is said to be in talks with firms, including Visa and Mastercard, to support and fund its planned fiat-backed cryptocurrency.
A Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter,” said that Facebook has been working for over a year now to launch a stablecoin-based payments platform. The effort, internally called “Project Libra,” is aimed at development of a cryptocurrency enabling the firm's billions of users send money to each other, as well as make online purchases.
Along with Visa and Mastercard, Facebook has also reportedly talked with financial services firm First Data Corp. in order to raise about $1 billion in total as collateral for the stablecoin to buffer it against volatility.
The social media giant is also in discussions with e-commerce companies, also to raise funds, and to gain support and acceptance for the planned stablecoin, according to the report. Facebook may also pay users in the digital currency for viewing ads, as well as allow advertisers to accept the token for merchandise and subsequently pay for more ads with it.
There's more, too. Notably, Facebook is said to be aiming to eliminate the swipe and card processing fees, generally around 2–3 percent, paid by merchants on every transaction to banks and payments processors and networks. “If it succeeds, the project threatens the card networks’ dominance over global payments,” the WSJ says.
Last December, reports suggested the social media giant may first focus on the Indian market to let users transfer money via the fiat-pegged cryptocurrency on WhatsApp, the messaging app Facebook acquired in 2014.
Barclays analyst Ross Sandler recently estimated that Facebook’s cryptocurrency project could yield anywhere from $3 billion to $19 billion in additional revenue by 2021.
The firm set up its blockchain division in May 2018, purportedly to explore the technology. Since then, the company has been expanding its blockchain team with new hires. It currently has around 22 open positions related to blockchain, including legal experts, data engineers, marketing managers and more.
Earlier this year, Facebook also hired staffers from Chainspace, a startup specializing in scaling blockchains via a process known as sharding.
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