Dear diary: so, my personal quest for taking over the world as we know it is going ok, but I’m bored. Sure, I own two of the world’s largest social media platforms and an encrypted end to end private messaging service but it’s sooo boooring reading other celeb’s posts day in, day out AND having to block the anti-vaxxers. I mean, shut up already. Also, my parents don’t understand me…
You knew that was Facebook founder, Instagram and WhatsApp owner Mark Zuckerberg, right? Course you did. This completely-based-on-fact diary entry is right about one thing: the Facebook King’s quest for world domination is going apace, especially if viewed in light of the most recent announcement that Facebook might soon be launching its own brand of currency to rival Bitcoin.
Like a modern-day Julius Caesar, will we soon see Zuckerberg’s face in profile, engraved on his very own cryptocurrency and distributed around his online Roman Empire? There’s every indication that this move is a serious one, but why now and just, why?
First, let’s get the name out in the open: GlobalCoin. Then, let’s take a look at Facebook’s stance on Cryptocurrency up to now. It transpires that a ban on all cryptocurrency adverts was lifted from Facebook’s pages this year after the social media giant had previously clamped down on it in 2018. While we can’t be sure of the exact reasons for the volte-face, it’s clear that the group was busy behind the scenes with its own development of GlobalCoin, under the codename Project Libra.
This is no amateur production, with the Libra team led by former PayPal president David Marcus. Initial reports point to the digital payment structure being rolled out across all its current social media messaging platforms. This ties in nicely with Zuckerberg’s previous announcements that Facebook would be looking to make Facebook Messenger more secure, bringing it in line with WhatsApp’s encrypted messaging service.
The currency is expected to launch in the first few months of 2020 but has been met with scepticism from commentators across the globe, who question with whom the currency will make traction.
According to a report by CNN’s Mike LaVere, Facebook’s move to make GlobalCoin payments “as easy as sending a photo” (Zuckerberg), will fail thanks to the ageing population of Facebook users and the apparent indifference of teenagers with little cash to spare. In fact, figures show that Snapchat and YouTube are fast becoming the platforms of choice for many teens, so Facebook will have its work cut out convincing more affluent older people that putting their trust in GlobalCoin will benefit them in any way whatsoever.
More than that, LaVere quoted from a report published by crypto analytics firm Diar. In it, the firm showed that more and more older people, those over 65, were using Facebook with less than half of its users under 35. If you think it was hard convincing your gran that contactless cards were the future, you’re going to have an uphill battle introducing her to cryptocurrency payments.
And of course, it’s not just retirees that are hard to convince. Cryptocurrency has enough uncertainty around it that for anyone not fully up to speed with its processes it can feel an unnecessary and just plain insecure transaction. When PayPal is just a click on your phone and transfers money in the currency of your home country, why would you risk trading in a currency that seems so largely unregulated?
Facebook does appear to answer this question in part by suggesting that GlobalCoin would be pegged to several existing stable currencies, to quell the unpredictable nature often associated with cryptocurrency in general.
For many of us, who quietly go about our days posting pictures of our holidays and presenting our best Insta lives, hashtag soblessed, it’s not so much that Facebook has decided to launch its own currency as much as how it expects its customer to use it and what that might mean for the look and feel of Facebook and Instagram in particular.
It seems apparent that Zuckerberg is desperate to move these sites on from purely social platforms and make more capital from the messaging side of things. Targeted advertising revenue might drop but the commission made on GlobalCoin transactions and the profit on services it sells might be expected to counter that loss.
But, if you’re anything like your gran, accepting change is not going to be easy and GlobalCoin might be a step too far.