Meta reportedly creating ‘Zuck Bucks’ virtual currency after Diem collapse

7 Apr 2022

Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook Developer Conference in 2019. Image: Anthony Quintano

Meta is reportedly seeking alternative revenue streams and ways to attract users, looking at the introduction of virtual currency and NFTs.

Facebook’s parent company Meta is planning to introduce a virtual currency for the metaverse, which has been dubbed ‘Zuck Bucks’ by employees, according to the Financial Times.

Sources told the publication that the currency would likely not be a cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology. Instead, it would be an in-app token controlled by Meta, similar to the currency used in the popular game Roblox.

The social media company is also reportedly looking at “reputation tokens”, which could be used as rewards within Facebook groups, and “creator coins” that could be associated with particular Instagram influencers.

The Financial Times reports that the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are seeking alternative streams of revenue and ways to attract and retain users.

Meta faced a hit in January with its 2021 fourth-quarter earnings, which revealed that Facebook’s daily active users fell for the first time in the platform’s 18-year history. The results disappointed investors with lower-than-expected profits and user numbers, causing shares to plunge by more than 20pc.

One way Meta has been looking to retain users on its social media platforms is by giving the option to monetise content. An Instagram subscription feature was trialled at the start of the year by a small group of US creators, which let them make some content exclusive to followers who pay a monthly fee.

Zuckerberg said last month that the company plans to bring NFTs to Instagram “in the near term”. The Financial Times reports that Meta also plans to launch a pilot for posting and sharing NFTs on Facebook in mid-May, with features that could potentially be monetised.

Previous cryptocurrency ambitions

An alternative revenue model the company was looking into for years ended in February after multiple setbacks.

The group behind the cryptocurrency project Diem, originally started by Facebook, sold its intellectual property and technology assets to Silvergate Bank for $182m following issues with federal regulators.

Facebook first announced its cryptocurrency initiative in 2019, called Libra at the time. The company planned to launch Libra in 2020, but faced difficulty when US politicians came out in opposition of the move.

There were plans to legitimise the project and distance it from Facebook with the formation of the Libra Association, but this faced a setback after major payments services PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and Stripe pulled out.

At a US Congress hearing in October 2019, Zuckerberg admitted: “I actually don’t know if Libra is going to work.”

Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook Developer Conference in 2019. Image: Anthony Quintano via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic