Facebook is “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” with its highly secretive cryptocurrency project, a New York Times (NYT) article published today, Feb. 28, argues.
Citing multiple anonymous sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Times pieces together the alleged contours of the project, which will reportedly aim to integrate cryptocurrency payments into its messaging services.
Notably, Facebook plans to rehaul its messaging infrastructure and integrate its three wholly-owned apps — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — under one canopy. As the Times notes, this would provide a future crypto token with exposure across the combined 2.7 billion who use the three services each month.
A crypto-powered payments system that would operate from within a messaging system, the Times notes, is an idea being hotly pursued by several global messaging giants, such as Korea’s Kakao, Line in Japan, and Russian-developed Telegram.
According to NYT, Facebook launched its crypto project — led by ex-PayPal president David Marcus — shortly after Telegram had sealed close to $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds for its forthcoming token and blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON).
Facebook has reportedly employed over 50 engineers to develop its cryptocurrency, three unnamed sources told the NYT. A further two told the newspaper that the importance of keeping the project under wraps is such that the relevant team has been given an office with separate key-card access to keep the details private from other employees.
Notably, five sources claiming to have been briefed on the team’s work alleged the forthcoming coin was most likely to be a fiat-pegged stablecoin — tied to the value of three different national fiat currencies, rather than just one.
The NYT notes, citing the anonymous sources, that Facebook has already begun shopping the “Facebook coin” around to unnamed crypto exchanges.
The question of centralization — and how far Facebook will allow its digital coin transactions to be decentralized, remains moot, according to NYT. Moreover, the Times cites industry experts who argued that Facebook is likely to face the same technological limitations and regulatory hurdles that have beset stalwart cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC).
As reported, unconfirmed reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users previously surfaced in December 2018. At the time, anonymous sources similarly suggested the token would be a stablecoin.
The trickle of information about the project aligns with the last year's job listings for blockchain talent on Facebook’s career page, as Cointelegraph has reported.