Facebook unveils digital wallet, global cryptocurrency ecosystem

Facebook unveils digital wallet, global cryptocurrency ecosystem

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

The services would be provided by a newly formed Facebook subsidiary called Calibra. The first product that Calibra will introduce, says the company, is a digital wallet for a new blockchain-powered global currency, called Libra.

The digital wallet will be available in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app, and will allow users anywhere to save, send, and spend Libra. The wallet and its associated digital currency are designed to address the current limited access to basic financial services experienced by many populations around the world.

“From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message and at low to no cost,” says the company. “And, in time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.”

Libra, the underlying digital currency itself, says the company, is designed to be a medium of exchange and will be built on a secure, scalable, and reliable blockchain and backed by a reserve of assets (i.e., a basket of existing major global currencies) designed to give it intrinsic value. It will be governed by the independent Libra Association, a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Switzerland that was formed to manage and evolve the new ecosystem.

The Libra Association will be responsible for facilitating the development of the Libra Blockchain and managing the Libra Reserve. Members of the Libra Association will consist of geographically distributed and diverse businesses, nonprofit and multilateral organizations, and academic institutions.

The initial group of “Founding Members” working together on finalizing the association’s charter include the following companies and organizations listed by industry:

  • Payments: Mastercard, PayPal, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), Stripe, Visa
  • Technology and marketplaces: Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, Mercado Pago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies, Inc.
  • Telecommunications: Iliad, Vodafone Group
  • Blockchain: Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited
  • Venture Capital: Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures
  • Nonprofit and multilateral organizations, and academic institutions: Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking

As a first step, early-stage code for the Libra Blockchain is now being open sourced under an Apache 2.0 license. This testnet, says the organization, will help it gather feedback from the community about the direction of the project and work toward ensuring a scalable, reliable, and secure launch, which is expected in the first half of 2020.

For more on the digital currency, see the Libra white paper.

Libra Association

Related articles:
Global banks mint crypto coin for fast trade settlement
IBM blockchain tech chosen by big banks for trade finance platform
U.S. Fed ‘thinking about’ digital currencies
A ‘better Bitcoin’ on the way?

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