The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first reported Thursday that Facebook, which is struggling to shrug off a series of data privacy scandals that first broke in 2018, is working on a Project Libra, a code name for its efforts to launch a digital coin that people on the platform could exchange for goods and services across the web.
The Silicon Valley firm is in talks with e-commerce companies about accepting the digital currency, WSJ reported. Facebook is said to be looking for as much as $1 billion in funding from Visa, Mastercard and First Data Corp., which processes payments, in an effort to avoid much of the instability and volatility that plague most cryptocurrencies currently on the market.
Facebook sees its digital coin being among standard payment options displayed at checkout on e-commerce sites, much as Amazon Pay and PayPal are today, according to the Journal. Facebook could also use its crypto in a loyalty capacity, offering users small amounts as a reward for their interactions and engagements on the social network.
Nearly one year ago to the day, rumors surfaced that Facebook was working on blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, which dovetails with WSJ’s report that Project Libra has been in development for at least 12 months.
Facebook has recently made several moves to position itself as a larger player in digital commerce. Over the summer, a Facebook patent filing revealed how the company’s Messenger chatbot could automate interactions between a consumer and local business to, for example, order and pay for a coffee. It’s also trying to get a foot in the door of the burgeoning livestream shopping space.
As Facebook’s appeal with Gen Z plummets, the company could be looking for new revenue opportunities and ways to keep users in its ecosystem, especially as some have speculated that blockchain could derail the money-printing social media advertising business.