OPINION: Facebook is launching its own currency. That's right, the social network with countless trust issues hanging over its brand is hoping to totally disrupt the financial industry.
This is a mind-blowingly ambitious project that could be the biggest thing to happen in the technology world since, er, the internet.
It's an unusual proposition, and incredibly, I think it has a good chance at success.
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Which is massively exciting, as this isn't a half-baked get-rich-quick scheme. It's a very serious, and potentially global economy-changing, project.
Which is probably why the Facebook group, not Facebook proper, has formed a new subsidiary company called "Calibra" to look after the project.
And it's not launching the currency on its own. Facebook is teaming up with 29 global brands (see below) to launch the new currency. Each company has invested at least US$10 million each into the project.
Money: Mastercard, PayPal, PayU, Stripe, Visa.
Tech: Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, Mercado Pago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies.
Communications: Iliad, Vodafone Group.
Blockchain: Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited.
VCs: Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures.
Nonprofits: Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women's World Banking.
The names, and reputations, of these companies gives you an idea about the scale and how ambitious this venture is. But there are still tonnes of questions.
Can I use Facebook's currency to buy a flat white from my local coffee shop? Will there be physical notes? Will they have Mark Zuckerberg's face on them? What will the currency be called? How does it differ from Bitcoin?
All good questions.
Let's start with the easiest question, Facebook and its partners are dubbing the new cryptocurrency "Libra" (the Roman word for the measurement for coins).
Can you buy a flat white with Libra? The short answer is yes. Eventually. But Libra isn't set to launch until 2020. So you'll have to wait. But, when the times comes, you will be able to buy anything with Libra. It will be accessible to anyone with an entry-level smartphone and data connectivity.
Libra says that its vendor transaction fees will be kept low and there will be zero P2P transaction fees. Users looking to spend Libra will have to set up a Calibra digital wallet. This has been likened to a "Starbucks card with a balance on it, but one you can use for more things than just coffee" by Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research.
The currency will