Facebook's Secretive Cryptocurrency Payment System Is Apparently Code-Named 'Project Libra'

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Facebookcoin, or whatever we’re calling it, is reportedly getting even closer to becoming a reality.

Following previous reports that such an endeavour was underway, the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported Thursday that Facebook has been in talks with “dozens” of financial groups about its super-secret cryptocurrency initiative, which is apparently code-named “Project Libra.” Take from that information whatever you wish.

According to the Journal, Facebook sees the project as a way to further integrate itself into the lives of its users — no surprise there — by developing a coin that can be used on Facebook and across the internet as easily as users use their Facebook credentials as login information for other websites and services. Unsurprisingly, because this is Facebook, the company is also reportedly looking at ways to link the project to ads:

One idea being considered is that users could click ads to buy a product and pay with Facebook tokens, which the retailer could then recycle to pay for more ads, one person said. Facebook rolled out a similar feature — using dollars and traditional card payments — on Instagram, which it owns, in March.

Facebook has reportedly met with Visa, Mastercard, and other financial firms about the project and is hoping to secure investments of roughly $1 billion, which the Journal’s sources said is intended to support the value of the coin and protect it against the volatility standard of cryptocurrency.

Bloomberg previously reported in December that Facebook was developing a cryptocurrency for its subsidiary WhatsApp, and the New York Times reported in February that Facebook had met with cryptocurrency exchanges about its plans for the coin. A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the project.

Recode reported in May last year that Facebook had assembled a blockchain division and was moving a number of company executives over to the project, including David Marcus, who had been leading the Messenger team prior to the shift.

In announcing his departure from that division in a Facebook post at the time, Marcus wrote that he would be “setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

In January of last year, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook that he was “interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of [encryption and cryptocurrency] technologies, and how best to use them in our services.” Interestingly, his site just weeks later banned ads that promoted “financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” including binary options, initial coin offerings, and—you guessed it — cryptocurrency.

I’m sure this will be fine. All of the other stuff Facebook’s done has gone over great.

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