Facebook Unveils Libra Cryptocurrency

You don’t have to have a Facebook account to use Libra.

The social media giant is working towards as it announces its new blockchain and the token of the same name that will run on top of it. While it is an an early announcement, the aim of the project is far-reaching. It includes a new Facebook subsidiary, Calibra, and an independent consortium, Libra Association, backed by some of tech’s biggest names.

“Implied in this project is that wherever the Visa or Mastercard logo are accepted, Libra would follow suit,” Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association, told CoinDesk in an exclusive interview. “In so many ways it’s a great leap forward for cryptocurrencies and, in many respects, a mainstreaming of this asset class.”

Customers interested in holding or transferring Facebook’s newly-announced Libra token will be given a number of options to do so, the company announced Tuesday, with an initial focus on international remittances.

Calibra will develop financial services and products around the Libra network, which will eventually be fully governed by the independent Libra Association. Calibra intends to start with a digital wallet for the Libra coin, which will let users transfer funds to each other, as well as store their tokens locally.

Customers will be able to access the wallet functionality through a new standalone app on iOS and Android, or through Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp services. The Libra blockchain is expected to launch in full sometime next year.

Access to these apps could be enormously significant. WhatsApp saw 1.5 billion active monthly users in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to TechCrunch. Globally 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked. The new effort is explicitly branded to reach those populations.

“The goal of this new project … is to build a financial ecosystem that can plug in and empower billions of people,” Disparte said.

“Just as the internet created a world of low-friction communication and information sharing, the hope with this public ecosystem and public utility is that we can create a world of value transfer and payment that has an equal low-friction property to it without sacrificing the governance standards in the traditional economy,” Disparte told CoinDesk.

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