Facebook Inc. unveiled plans for a new, global financial system with a broad group of partners from Visa Inc. to Uber Technologies Inc. on board to create a cryptocurrency it expects will one day trade much like the U.S. dollar and inject a new source of revenue. Called Libra, the new currency will launch as soon as next year and be what’s known as a stablecoin–a digital currency that’s supported by established [fiat] government-backed currencies and securities [see Reuters on stablecoins here]. The goal is to avoid massive fluctuations in value so Libra can be used for everyday transactions across Facebook in a way that more volatile cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, haven’t been. To come anywhere close to matching the U.S. dollar for utility and acceptance, Libra will need to be widely trusted.
As we shall see below, trust issues are key to the entire venture. Friend-of-the-blog Matt Stoller has an Op-Ed in the New York Times that you should all read; he expands on how the “partnership” may work:
As far as I can tell, Facebook aims to build a new payments and currency system using blockchain technology. Facebook is starting a subsidiary, Calibra, to “provide financial services” to individuals and businesses, including saving, spending and sending money. The actual standards for the currency will be managed by a nonprofit in Switzerland called the Libra Association. The currency will have its own central bank known as the Libra Reserve, and the board will be the committee of corporations that helped set it up.
Needless to say, a privatized Central Bank will take some time to set up (Bloomberg also says the Libra Association’s Charter is not yet written). Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
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