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Facebook revealed its long-awaited cryptocurrency plans Tuesday, announcing “Project Libra,” a new type of digital money designed for the billions of people using its apps and social network. If the plan is successful, users will soon be able to shop with and send the currency—known as Libra—on Messenger and Instagram, as well as use it with a wide variety of other merchants like Uber, Spotify, and MasterCard.
Facebook did not provide specifics about exactly when and how consumers will get ahold of the currency, but executives suggest it will first be distributed on Messenger and WhatsApp in mid-2020.
In addition, the company also announced a new digital wallet called Calibra, which will be operated by Facebook as a separate subsidiary and provide users with a way to store and spend Libra. The digital wallet, which won’t be available to the public for months, will display the value of users’ Libra in their local currency and provide a design similar to popular digital wallet Venmo for transferring money.
Facebook provided an image of Calibra’s design—including a three-wave symbol that serves as the Libra’s equivalent of a dollar sign.
Facebook’s Calibra digital wallet app. Photo courtesy of Facebook
According to David Marcus, a former PayPal executive who is leading Project Libra for Facebook, one of the initiative’s main goals is to reach the 1.7 billion people worldwide who lack access to the banking system.
“It’s an anomaly that the Internet has no protocol for money,” Marcus tells Fortune, adding that Project Libra will also provide more competition in financial services, along with increasing access to capital.
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