Facebook Blockchain Plans Accelerate: Libra Networks Launched
Previous reporting has pegged Facebook’s cryptocurrency initiative as being codenamed “Project Libra.” The effort’s accordingly been shrouded in secrecy to date … until now.
That’s because the project has just risen from the shadows. The Silicon Valley social media powerhouse turned to fintech-friendly Switzerland earlier this month to register Libra Networks, a subsidiary firm that will encompass the Facebook’s newfound blockchain and fintech payments, data, and investing services.
The development is the most tangible sign to date that Facebook’s plans around blockchain tech and the payments arena are, indeed, moving full steam ahead.
A May 2nd filing in the commercial register of Geneva, both a European and global banking hub, shows that the new fintech firm will not be singular in its focus. Rather, the startup’s operations will run the gamut, having a hand in “investing, payments, financing, identity management, analytics, big data, blockchain and other technologies.”
The filing’s indication of Libra Network’s commitment to “identity management” is an interesting one, as Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has previously expressed a desire to test blockchain out for “distributed logins.” At the time, he said:
“You basically take your information, you store it on some decentralized system, and you have the choice of whether to log in in different places, and you’re not going through an intermediary.”
As such, those plans, along with Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans, have seemingly accelerated with the official registration of Libra Networks in Switzerland.
Facebook Reportedly Trying to Raise $1 Billion USD for Its Coin
On the heels of the Libra Network news, it seems clear that Facebook’s in-progress stablecoin project will be fielded under the purview of the new firm.
So what do we know about the coin so far beyond who will likely be managing it?
For starters, New York Times reporters Nathaniel Popper and Mike Isaac revealed back in March that the Facebook’s stablecoin was tentatively being designed as a “basketcoin,” a token pegged to several assets, specifically fiat currencies, instead of just one.
Popper and Isaac simultaneously noted that the basketcoin’s development that had progressed enough that Facebook was already reaching out to cryptocurrency exchanges with regard to listing the coin on their respective platforms. The journalists said the crypto could even be publicly released by the end of Q2 2019.
In April, Popper reported that Facebook was looking to raise $1 billion from venture capital firms, possibly as collateral, for its stablecoin. At the time, he said the move could help the project be more independent:
“Given that one of the big allures of blockchain projects is the decentralization, getting outside investors could help Facebook present the project as more decentralized and less controlled by Facebook.”
Around the same timeframe, a Facebook job posting appeared for a Lead Commercial Counsel, Blockchain. Notably, the employee would be responsible for “drafting and negotiating a wide variety of contracts related our blockchain initiatives.”
U.S. Senators Demand Answers from Facebook on Its Crypto Project
In other Facebook news, the two leading congressmen on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs sent company CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter earlier this month that requested he answer a series of questions related to the company’s cryptocurrency venture.
In large part, the senators were interested in how Facebook was going to approach privacy around its crypto, as they wrote “privacy experts have raised questions about Facebook’s extensive data collection practices” in their letter.
Specifically, the senators asked to learn how the crypto project worked, whether Facebook had talked to regulators about the coin, if the project had privacy protections and whether the company planned to sell token users’ data to “unaffiliated” third parties.