Facebook’s decision to enter the cryptocurrency world last year when they launched the white paper for Libra grabbed huge attention from the crypto world, and beyond. The idea that a company with reach to more than a quarter of the world’s population wanted to launch a digital currency was huge.
However, it appears as if their ambition was indeed too big as the company quickly had fingers pointing at them from the world’s regulators and were drawn through the coals in the US Senate. Libra was shot down before it even took off and it looked as if the project was doomed.
However, Facebook — or David Marcus, co-creator of Libra and head of the Novi (formerly Calibra) project — was not ready to give up on the idea of digitalising payments and making digital assets and as easy as social media.
This has pushed Facebook and Marcus to pivot and change on order to get their ducks in a row for regulators. The first changes saw the idea of the Libra cryptocurrency change its shape and become a lot less exciting and a lot more regulatory friendly.
Now, reports have come forward that the social media giant has realigned its forces arranging all its payments-related subsidiaries into a single group called Facebook Financial. But, now the question is whether Facebook is finding a new way to launch Libra — or some such crypto-based iteration — or of it is using this as a screen to walk away from the uncertain space of digital assets on the blockchain.
The new project is called F2 internally and the team will run all payments projects, including Facebook Pay, the company’s universal payments feature that it plans to build inside all of its apps.
Marcus will continue running Novi, the division that is building a digital wallet to hold the Libra cryptocurrency. He will also be involved in WhatsApp’s payments efforts in countries like India and Brazil.
Facebook has hired former Upwork Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephane Kasriel to serve as a payments vice president under Marcus.
Facebook has never really hung its hat on Libra, especially when the social media site was accused of being untrustworthy. But, there is also evidence that Mark Zuckerberg has been increasingly excited about the messaging apps’ potential to spur commercial activity.
A Facebook spokesperson told Cointelegraph:
“Payments and financial services have become increasingly more important for the world, and as a result, we need to increase our efforts around making payments and commerce easier for people. We want to empower people everywhere to send money to each other, buy and sell things online, and help businesses grow.”
What is happening with Libra?
Libra held much potential when it was first announced, but its fall from grace in the face of regulators has been severe. The question is how much of a priority is this project within F2 for Facebook?
The company’s spokesperson told Cointelegraph that “There are no changes to our current plans with the formation of a new group,” further adding:
“We want to be able to give people the ability to make a payment however they choose — debit, credit or Libra digital currencies. We’re taking multiple approaches to payments, ranging from Facebook Pay and checkout, which are built on top of traditional payment infrastructure, and longer-term work around Libra with Novi, so that global payment infrastructure around the world can be more efficient, especially for things like transferring money across borders.”