The company released a white paper Tuesday, and a fancy website, about Libra, a so-called "stablecoin" that Facebook wants to launch in the next six to twelve months, with the backing of a bunch of big corporations including Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Uber, eBay, and Coinbase. She also pointed to data leaks, a problem that could be disastrous if Libra gets the 1 billion plus users that it hopes for.
Creating its own globe-spanning currency - one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users - isn't likely to dampen regulators' interest in Facebook.
In April, Canada's federal privacy watchdog announced plans to take Facebook to court following an investigation into the platform's privacy practices that revealed more than 620,000 Canadians had their data improperly shared during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. "Early bitcoin and crypto people are viewed as anarchists - many are anti government anti establishment with anti bank rhetoric - that's why the big financial institutions have been wary of investing and supporting cryptocurrency", said Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen.
Indeed, a similar crypto-based payment service, called Circle and based in Boston, has been offering free worldwide money transfers since 2017.
But the main concern may be trust.
Each of the project's 27 members (a number Facebook hopes to expand to 100 by next year) will run a network node that processes and verifies network transactions. They would not specify which regulators. Each purchase of Libra will be backed by a reserve fund of equal value held in real-world currencies to stabilize Libra's value. Libra will let you send money to nearly anyone with a smartphone, as easily as a text message and at "low to no cost", Facebook says.
Facebook is making its foray into cryptocurrencies with the formation of Libra Association, a consortium of 28 companies led by the social media giant that will manage a new currency.
Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data.
Such a scenario isn't hard to imagine, with Libra's announcement not even being in circulation 24 hours yet, when a top democrat in Congress, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), demanded that Facebook halt the development of Libra. And for now Calibra's just building a wallet to handle those transactions. Users will keep their money in a digital wallet, which will be integrated into Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, and also be available as a standalone app for iOS and Android. Instagram messages won't be included, at least at first.
What is Libra and where will it be stored?
Facebook's whitepaper claims that it will not source transaction data from the Libra Blockchain without consumer consent. Zuckerberg's vision - which has mostly not been detailed publicly - will rely heavily on privacy-shielded messaging apps in an attempt to make the services more about private, one-to-one connections.
However, Facebook has attracted many powerful partners to the Libra Association - indicating they will have significant political sway.