Facebook has officially announced its secret financial services project: Libra.
Referred to as a new cryptocurrency in its whitepaper, Facebook says the digital asset will utilize blockchain technology in the Libra network. The company says that Calibra, its newly formed, wholly-owned subsidiary, will release a digital wallet for the new global currency, allowing users to save, send and spend Libra.
Unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which are accessible to anyone, Libra will only be available on certain platforms that are also wholly owned and controlled by Facebook: WhatsApp, Messenger and as a standalone app.
Libra is part of Facebook’s larger initiative to provide financial services through Calibra. The social network is targeting the world’s unbanked, roughly 31% of the global population or half of the adults in the world who don’t have an active bank account.
The move is a major play designed to rock the financial services industry as well as legacy banks as it moves to capture new customers. By utilizing blockchain technology combined with online platforms that have allowed the social networking giant to connect friends and family members across the globe via the third largest website on Earth, Facebook’s Calibra has the ability to become a financial services giant.
Libra is expected to launch in 2020 and will target cross-border payments and slow settlement times that currently average three to five days, shaving transactions down to seconds.
According to the Libra project,
“Moving money around the world should be as easy and cheap as sending a text message. No matter where you live, what you do, or how much you earn.”
Crypto coders are highlighting a major difference between the private ledger powering Libra and traditional blockchains like Bitcoin.