In June 2018, Facebook kickstarted the central banks’ interest, and governments and their regulators, into action by announcing it was to launch Libra, a stablecoin pegged to a basket of global fiat currencies. At the time, Libra was to be an arm’s length business (based in Switzerland) in association with a range of impressive names in the financial sector including Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Stripe and MercadoPay. However, it ran into an avalanche of criticism, and arguably panic, as governments began to realise that with 2.9 billion people logging onto Facebook a month, there existed a user-base which was three times the population of the G7 economies. The fear was that if Libra realised its ambition, it would potentially undermine the influence of their own currencies.
Early marketing from Libra
Libra was then renamed Diem and, in 2021, it was decided to migrate the busines from Switzerland to the US. Instead of being pegged/backed by a basket of fiat currencies, Diem was to be backed by the US$. Then along come NFTs, with Facebook proceeding to announce its Novi digital wallet. David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Novi division, told Bloomberg: “We’re definitely looking at a number of ways to get involved in the space because we think we’re in a really good position to do so. When you have a good crypto wallet, like Novi will be, you also have to think about how to help consumers support NFTs.” The next chapter in this digital journey is that Facebook has changed the name of its holding company to Meta as it increasingly focuses its attention on the new digital worlds of avatars, Augmented reality and Virtual reality. However, in reference to Facebook’s original digital currency, the FT has reported Mark Zuckerberg as indicating
“that cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens – digital tokens that represent artworks or other collectibles – would be part of the metaverse vision.”
For now, Facebook is to carry out a pilot test and launch its Novi digital wallet in America and Guatemala (where 56% of the citizens are unbanked) and will be offering a stablecoin from PAXO as a form of payment. However, surely it is not if, but when, will we see Facebook/Diem/Meta enabling its 2.9 billion monthly users to buy and sell NFTs and other digital assets in the on-line digital Metaverse, using their own digital currency?