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NYT Report: Facebook Developing its Own Cryptocurrency

February 28, 2019
Giancarlo Roma


NYT Report: Facebook Developing its Own Cryptocurrency

According to a bombshell New York Times report published earlier today, Facebook is “hoping to succeed where Bitcoin failed” with its own crypto project.

The Times report, which cites sources speaking under the condition of anonymity, claims that the goal of the project is to integrate crypto payments into the company’s messaging services. As part of this plan, Facebook’s three main messaging apps — WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram — would all be brought under one umbrella, with one crypto token available across these services, which combined draw 2.7 billion users every month.

As per the NYT report, Facebook launched its secret crypto initiative last May when former PayPal President and head of Messenger David Marcus announced in a Facebook post that he was “setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.” This came barely a month after rival messaging app Telegram closed nearly $1.7 billion in two initial coin offerings (ICOs) for its token and blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON). As the Times article notes, other well-established messaging apps — notably, Korean-based Kakao, U.S.-based Signal, and Japan-based Line — are also exploring integrating a cryptocurrency into their platform.

According to three unnamed sources who spoke to the NYT, Facebook employed more than fifty engineers to develop its own crypto under Marcus’ leadership. Two more anonymous sources told the NYT that the project was so secretive that members of the crypto team were given their own office with seperate key-card access so that other company employees would not know what they were working on.

In what would be a first for the crypto space, Facebook’s token would be a stablecoin pegged to not one, but three different national fiat currencies, according to five sources that claimed to have knowledge of the situation. This news was first reported by Bloomberg in December.

The project is reportedly far enough along that Facebook has already started reaching out to crypto exchanges to explore where its coin might be listed.

Given Facebook’s enormous network of over a billion users worldwide, it is only logical that the company would explore a cryptocurrency that would allow users to send money, in the form of remittances or payment, securely across borders. However, “the big question facing Facebook,” as the Times report states, “is how much control it would retain over the digital coin,” or in other words, how centralized would this coin be?