Facebook's Secret Cryptocurrency Led by PayPal Alumni Just 'Months Away' from India Launch

By CCN: Facebook’s much-hyped cryptocurrency project, dubbed Project Libra, may launch in India within a matter of months, according to a Bloomberg report. The secretive blockchain project, led by a team of PayPal alumni, is expected to launch a stablecoin for sending peer-to-peer payments to friends and family as well as integrating with major e-commerce players.

Famed investor Mike Novogratz this week called Facebook’s looming service “stunningly important” to the crypto space. If executed correctly, he said, Facebook’s payment service will be a “big, big deal” and lend credibility to cryptocurrencies.

Facebook cryptocurrency: launching in India?

Facebook hinted at its plans to launch in India back in December. Early reports suggest Zuckerberg’s cryptocurrency will facilitate overseas remittance payments for Indian WhatsApp users. The cryptocurrency is expected to be a “stablecoin” pegged to the value of local currency.

Facebook has since used India as a testing ground with the beta-launch of WhatsApp Pay in the region.

Some of India’s 200 million WhatsApp users can now activate a “payments” option, send peer-to-peer payments, and link up their bank accounts. Although we should point out this service does not yet tap blockchain technology.

Facebook is “Stunningly important” to crypto industry

Billionaire investor and head of crypto merchant bank Mike Novogratz this week called Facebook’s plans “stunningly important.”

“I think it’s a stunningly important thing. I think it’s a good thing for the entire space… You’ve got one of the largest companies in the world saying ‘we believe in cryptocurrency’”

Novogratz said that Facebook presence in the space will give the ecosystem a new level of credibility. He claims it will give institutional investors the confidence to get off the sidelines and invest in digital assets.

“It’s not going to be small. To me it’s a step function of credentialization and credibility.”

Although he pointed out that Facebook’s impact relies on adopting a decentralized model, rather than a centralized payments service.

Double or triple the crypto user base?

Novogratz’s comments were echoed by Blockchain Capital’s Spencer Bogart. As CCN reported this week, Bogart believes Facebook’s crypto plans will double or triple the number of people using digital assets.

“Once they own [Facebook Coin], it will be like being on the internet so people can spin-out and start owning bitcoin, ethereum […] But the most important thing is that it is going to lit the fire in the pants of every major fintech and financial institution in the US.”

Bogart also claims Facebook Coin will act as a catalyst for other companies to develop blockchain solutions.

Peer-to-peer payments?

Zuckerberg said at this month’s developer conference that sending payments should be as easy as sending a photo. It’s the strongest hint yet that Facebook is going all-in on peer-to-peer payments:

“I believe that it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo."

The sheer volume of former PayPal employees working on the Facebook Coin project should also give a strong clue about the future trajectory. Not only is the project led by former PayPal president David Marcus, but a fifth of facebook’s blockchain team are PayPal alumni.

The payment project is expanding rapidly, with Facebook also hiring 100 new employees for its London base, the hub of fintech innovation.

Last modified (UTC): May 9, 2019 7:22 AM

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Ben Brown

Ben is a journalist with a decade of experience covering financial markets. Based in London, UK, his writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and he was Chief Editor at Block Explorer, the world's longest-running source of Blockchain data. Reach him at or on Twitter at . Email ben @ benjamin-brown.uk.

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