Sunday, 20 October 2019

Facebook to unveil new cryptocurrency

LONDON: Facebook is set Tuesday to unveil a bid to bring cryptocurrency payments into the mainstream, reportedly with the endorsement of governments and financial giants.

The world’s biggest social network is expected to outline details of a virtual currency launching next year that it hopes will avoid the rollercoaster volatility of “blockchain” technologies such as bitcoin.

Facebook is setting up a consortium called “Libra” which, according to the Wall Street Journal, has been joined by more than a dozen companies including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Uber.

The companies along with venture capitalists and telecommunications firms will reportedly invest around $10 million each into the consortium.

Facebook has been trying to ward off hostile regulatory scrutiny after a series of privacy abuses and the spread of fake news.

The consortium will be managed externally and seek to build trust among consumers by pegging the virtual coin to a basket of currencies including the dollar and euro, the Journal said.

Facebook has already sought blessings from the US Treasury and the Bank of England, the BBC reported last month.

Regulators have been reticent about cryptocurrencies, not only due to potential abuse by criminals but the wild swings in their value harming consumers.

With more than two billion users across its platforms, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook could have the clout to bring cryptocurrency out of the fringes and emulate the likes of WeChat in China, where the US site is banned.

WeChat allows its users to chat, shop and play games without leaving its platform, generating more revenue by offering a one-stop portal.

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