Libra, Not GlobalCoin
Previously, we understood that Facebook was launching “GlobalCoin.” Instead, they’re launching Libra. As stablecoins go, people will now have a choice between Bitfinex’s Leo and Facebook’s Libra.
The Libra blockchain project is now live for testing, and the documentation released with the project reveals a lot of insights into the philosophy and design of the new blockchain.
The chain sports a new programming language, just like Ethereum did – called Move.
Facebook says it aims to create a “safe” place for people to develop with digital assets. In crypto, we call that testnet. Nevertheless, Facebook is already one of the more developer-friendly blockchain projects you’ll see. The documentation is vast and includes gems such as:
“Libra is built on a secure, scalable, and reliable blockchain. It is backed by a reserve of assets designed to give it intrinsic value and is governed by the independent Libra Association tasked with evolving the ecosystem.”
Developers will be able to write programs in the Move language, which can run on the Libra blockchain. Anything you can imagine would be possible – a savings account, merchant checkout, maybe even some kind of lottery system.
Libra Building an Alt-Finance System
Facebook wants to build an economy outside the regular purview of governments. Owning Libra could open doors around the world. For these intents and purposes, it’s not absurd to expect governments and airlines to accept Libra for certain services. From the Libra whitepaper:
“For too many, parts of the financial system look like telecommunication networks pre-internet. Twenty years ago, the average price to send a text message in Europe was 16 cents per message.3 Now everyone with a smartphone can communicate across the world for free with a basic data plan. Back then, telecommunications prices were high but uniform; whereas today, access to financial services is limited or restricted for those who need it most — those impacted by cost, reliability, and the ability to seamlessly send money.”
For people in certain parts of the world, the Facebook crypto project might be their first introduction to digital banking as well as digital assets. The project might not be palatable as a cryptocurrency. Nevertheless, the prospect of millions joining the blockchain ecosystem as a result of their efforts is positive.
A new era of peer-to-peer commerce might come about. It could be that Facebook has the missing element: a network of people ready to use the product. The company already facilitates millions in business via its marketplace feature. A good portion of that could move to Libra transactions, with users paying on delivery. Facebook could eventually get a cut of these funds.
It’s difficult to predict how big the Facebook Libra project will be in the end. There’s no doubt it will see some use. With the proper approach, it could see extensive usage. Will it displace other options like ApplePay? Almost certainly it will affect it. Facebook spans across operating systems and borders. The company manages to profit in countries where it’s banned.
As a result, the future for crypto gets a potentially weird twist: the most significant growth factor for all of crypto might be Facebook users, using Libra and looking beyond it.