FACEBOOK wants to launch its own Bitcoin-style virtual cash that could be used to pay users to share more posts on its social network.
Rumblings of a move into cyptocurrency were ignited this week amid the company’s historic management reshuffle.
As the new execs poured in, Facebook’s current head of Messenger David Marcus quietly announced that he will lead the firm’s new experiment into blockchain, which is the tech that underpins virtual money like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
And earlier today, Cheddar’s Alex Heath cited sources close to the matter as saying that Facebook is “very serious about” the new venture.
The company’s “virtual token” could also be used to open up electronic payments and money transfers to its 2.2 billion global users.
And would almost certainly come in handy on its Gumtree-style Marketplace that allows users to buy and sell products.
Meanwhile Facebook-owned Instagram has also been making an aggressive push into online shopping on its app, most recently introducing a native payments option that lets users sync their credit and debit cards to book salon and restaurant appointments.
Morgan Beller, a member of the social network’s corporate development team, has reportedly been studying the nascent blockchain tech for almost a year.
“I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch,” said Messenger boss Marcus in a recent Facebook post.
However, Facebook apparently doesn’t have any plans to introduce an initial coin offering (ICO), which would allow the public to buy a limited number of virtual coins at a set price.
Those same sources close to the firm said that it would have to make acquisitions in the blockchain space to develop its own currency.
In the past, Facebook’s stance has been both pro- and anti-cryptocurrency.
Back in January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg dubbed virtual cash as “hard to control” in a Facebook post.
He added that he planned to “study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”
Just weeks later, the social network introduced a new policy banning ads promoting cyptocurrency and initial coin offerings.
That same month, the CEO of Matchpool (a firm combining virtual currencies with social apps) Yonatan Ben Shimon posited that Facebook’s launch of digital cash could have its benefits.
He told Futurism that a Facebook cyptocurrency could be used to reward users to create posts.
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“If they take a step [toward this plan], it can be awesome,” said Shimon.
“But in order to do it right, they have to be with a partner from the crypto space that understands how to build it in a decentralized way.”
Facebook has refused to comment on the news.