Facebook plans entry into cryptocurrency market

The world’s largest social network now wants to become a financial services provider.

Following initial speculation in May 2019, Facebook is officially sharing plans for Calibra, a newly-formed subsidiary that will let consumers have access to and participate in the bitcoin-based Libra cryptocurrency network. The first product Calibra will introduce is a digital wallet for Libra. The wallet will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app — with expectations to launch in 2020.

Calibra will enable consumers to instantly send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, at low to no cost. In time, Facebook hopes for Calibra to offer additional services, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding public transit without cash or a metro pass.

Facebook says Calibra will have “strong protections” in place for users’ money and personal information. Calibra will use the same verification and anti-fraud processes utilized by banks and credit cards, with automated systems proactively monitoring activity to detect and prevent fraudulent behavior.

According to Facebook, Calibra will also offer dedicated live support, with refunds of Libra funds lost due to fraudulent account activity. Calibra will not share user account information or financial data without consent, except in cases of safety, compliance with the law, or providing “basic functionality” to users.

By offering users its own digital currency, Facebook will enable consumers who lack a traditional bank account a means of making online purchases. Amazon is allowing consumers without bank or credit accounts to make cash purchases through services such as Amazon Cash, but Facebook would be the first major e-commerce platform to offer a proprietary digital payment system.
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