Facebook finally launched their own cryptocurrency, Libra, on Tuesday after months of speculation. The token’s wallet, named Calibra, was launched at the same time as the whitepaper, the arrival of which sent the crypto community into a frenzy. Given that much of what was revealed was already generally known there were few big surprises on offer, except for potentially the scale of the offering as the whitepaper put Facebook’s bold plans in black and white.
Facebook’s Global Mission
The Libra whitepaper sums up the ambitions of the project in its very first line, and it makes for interesting reading:
Libra’s mission is to enable a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.
This is the kind of grandiose statement offered by any number of underwhelming privacy coins, but the difference here is that Facebook has the chops to back up its ambitions and genuinely revolutionize the way money is handled and spent worldwide. The central aims of the currency are, according to the whitepaper, to allow the movement of money to be as easy as sending a text message or a photo, something that has only become possible thanks to the proliferation of internet-connected phones worldwide. This includes, and in the case of Libra is aimed at, the millions of unbanked people in the developing world, many of whom have mobile phones but cannot get access to the world banking system through traditional means. To them, Facebook can act as an entry point to the world of international finance and banking, while also gaining Facebook more users and more precious data.
Remittance Processors First Up in the Crosshairs
If Facebook achieves their core goal of being an alternative banking system for billions of people worldwide, this could present the first genuine threat to fiat payment processors like Visa and Mastercard in decades (interestingly, both of these companies invested in the project). Remittance platforms like Western Union that have charged huge fees to wire money back home are probably in the most immediate danger, with Libra being cheaper, easier, and quicker to send than almost all the existing platforms out there. Within the community sentiment was generally bullish, with very few people seeing Libra as a direct threat to the majority of the bigger tokens, in particular Bitcoin which operates in a completely different sphere. In fact the consensus seemed to be, as it has for some time, that Libra will in fact assist in the growth of the likes of Bitcoin as it will normalize cryptocurrencies and lead people to discover more about the space, and the tokens that make up the ecosystem at large.
Look out for more analysis and reaction to Libra and Calibra in the coming days on BitStarz News.