Business

Facebook in talks with regulators to launch cryptocurrency

LONDON: Facebook has been in contact with the US and British financial regulators with a view to launch its own cryptocurrency next year, the BBC reported last Friday.

The cryptocurrency, referred to internally as GlobalCoin, would work with a new digital payments system in about a dozen countries, starting in the first quarter of next year.

Previous reports have said that Facebook is taking a serious look at blockchain technology under its Project Libra, in part to tackle doubts about privacy among its many users following a series of scandals.

But the targeted date appears new. The BBC said Facebook had already spoken to Bank of England governor Mark Carney and to officials at the US Treasury.

Facebook's currency would be stablecoin, a digital unit pegged to the US dollar in contrast to more anarchic means of virtual payment such as bitcoin, according to earlier reports by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.

With more than two billion users across its platforms, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook could have the clout to take a cryptocurrency mainstream and emulate the likes of WeChat in China.

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

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has said that adding e-commerce is the logical evolution of the company's advertising-based business model.

But such a step is likely to invite more intense regulatory scrutiny at a time when Facebook is already under a cloud for abuses of privacy and the spread of fake news. - AFP

BUSINESS & FINANCE