Facebook makes its big move into cryptocurrency with Libra

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are now mainstream. If you still doubt this fact, then take a look at Facebook, which has formally announced its entry into the cryptocurrency space.

The social media giant announced it will create its own cryptocurrency called Libra, which will allow users to buy, sell and send money to friends around the world. The cryptocurrency itself is a stablecoin, which means it has a set, stable value, unlike the volatile nature of mainstream cryptocurrencies.

Facebook also created a subsidiary named Calibra, which will craft a digital wallet by the same name for users to store their Libra cryptocurrency. Also, it has recruited multiple businesses as investors including Visa, Paypal, Stripe, Mastercard and other big names.

"The introduction of Libra shows that a wide range of players across the blockchain and traditional finance/tech space are interested in blockchain technology and its potential," Tara Annison, technical product manager at blockchain asset company PR9 Network, said in an email. "The Libra foundation has stated that they think blockchain is a powerful tool for improving financial inclusion and it will be interesting to see how they shape the product offering around this, especially regarding the user experience."

Annison also said that Faceook has developed its own blockchain using the programming language Move. They have also developed their own blockchain and are using Move as the programming language, a programming language built to be simple to use even for those not familiar with programming.

Facebook's stated goal for Libra is to provide basic financial services for the financially underserved.

"For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach: almost half of the adults in the world don't have an active bank account and those numbers are worse in developing countries and even worse for women. The cost of that exclusion is high — approximately 70% of small businesses in developing countries lack access to credit and $25 billion is lost by migrants every year through remittance fees," according to the release. "This is the challenge we're hoping to address with Calibra, a new digital wallet that you'll be able to use to save, send and spend Libra."

Other Libra investors have echoed Facebook's goal to help the financially underserved enter the global economy through cryptocurrency.

"We support Libra's aim to create a simple, secure global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people, stimulating the global economy. It complements our purpose of empowering people and creating economic opportunity for all," Alyssa Cutright, VP of global payments, billing and risk, eBay, said in a blog. "Furthermore, one role of the Libra Association is to lead social impact grant-making for financial inclusion, which directly aligns to the work we do through the ebay Foundation."

The Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra wallet are set to launch sometime in 2020, and Facebook has said that this project is still in its infancy.

However, many experts are proclaiming this announcement as the start of a new era in blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

"Facebook's bold, all-in crypto approach is not only a breath of fresh air for the industry, but is the new benchmark for unicorns if they want to get to the trillion dollar level," Jehan Chu, co-founder of Social Alpha Foundation, said in an email. "Crypto economies are still in their infancy and have massive growth curves ahead, and Facebook will not only boost the industry, but benefit from utilizing their own internal cryptocurrency to capture and drive value. History will mark Facebook's Libra as the starting gun of cryptocurrency 2.0."

Original author: Bradley Cooper