Facebook Retracts Crypto Advertising Ban…Ahead of Coinbase Buy?

July 5, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

The cryptocurrency market these days, perhaps one of the biggest potential new sources of mobile payments, is a strange frontier full of possibility for disaster and benefit alike. Recently, we got a look at just how strange this market can get as Facebook reconsidered its ban on cryptocurrency advertising, but only within a comparatively narrow bandwidth. The oddly deliberate approach has suggested to some, as a report from MarketRealist found, that Facebook may be looking to go in on cryptocurrency much more heavily, to the point where it may buy Coinbase itself.

The original ban went back to January, and was reportedly brought out as a way to address a growing number of outright deceptive initial coin offering (ICO) and other such scams, along with a general lack of regulation. However, following an announcement that Facebook was looking into its own blockchain efforts—and creating a division specifically for exploring blockchain in its company—the overall mood around crypto might have softened a bit. The company will now allow licensed advertisers, approved in advance, to promote products on Facebook.

It doesn’t hurt that there were some Facebook connections to crypto, either; David Marcus, head of Facebook Messenger for four years, is on Coinbase’s board, and is also heading up the blockchain division at Facebook. That’s actually led some to wonder if, perhaps, Facebook is infiltrating the exchange with an eye toward seeing how it operates, what it may be able to improve on, and ultimately, pick it up for itself.

Naturally, nothing here is concrete—this is fairly heavy on the speculation—but Facebook going from “no crypto ads” to “at least some crypto ads” and “we’re kind of noodling around with elements of crypto ourselves” does suggest that something could be in the works. With Facebook’s average user counts on the rise, and its status among the young looking tenuous—some youngsters have been heard to opine that Facebook is something more for their parents—a crypto connection could be a growth vector for the company.

Will Facebook buy Coinbase? Maybe. I don’t find it that likely myself, but the notion of Facebook using a cryptocurrency for a mobile payments option—it’s already made some test forays into this field—isn’t out of line, and with a Coinbase connection already in place, maybe something larger will come out of it.