Facebook Wants a Billion for Cryptocurrency-Backed Mobile Payments Development

May 6, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Facebook’s advances on the mobile payments front have been fairly substantial, as the platform works to be not only a place to share pictures of your dinner and your random thoughts about politics but also a place to buy things. For a little over a year now, Facebook has been working on Project Libra, a project that will make Facebook not just social media, but also a mobile wallet as well.

Project Libra focuses on the development and use of a Facebook-branded cryptocurrency, which will not only be usable on Facebook itself, but elsewhere online. One part of the project actually makes the Facebook crypto an attractive buy, as Facebook is raising about $1 billion to put behind it. The word “stablecoin” wasn’t actually used, but it could ultimately end up as a USD-pinned coin.

Facebook is also talking to online retailers to get them to accept the Facebook coin as a payment method, while also getting some contribution to that $1 billion target. Better yet, those accepting Facebook crypto will see reduced processing fees, as compared to the usual card processing costs.

Also on tap is a way to pay using Facebook credentials, and even a way for Facebook to reward its own users with Facebook crypto for doing things like viewing ads and shopping on Facebook.

Facebook has been frantically trying to find ways to generate revenue other than via advertising for some time now, and this latest attempt might have something to it. After all, it’s one thing to show a product to a whole bunch of people and hope enough of them actually buy it to make the show worthwhile, but it’s another to actually give potential customers the means to immediately buy right there. While Facebook’s made a few tentative attempts at commerce before—the Facebook “Buy Button” has been bandied around since 2017 at least—this might be one that works, since it works both ways.

Facebook using crypto as a reward and a mechanism to buy things may be one of its best ideas yet. Only time will tell how well it works, but since it’s a reward and an avenue to purchase at the same time, it could capitalize on a lot of basic human behaviors and catch—and keep—a lot of interest.