Facebook confirms it will launch Libra cryptocurrency in 2020

18 Jun 2019

Facebook corporate headquarters sign in Silicon Valley. Image: wolterke/Depositphotos

Facebook has released a white paper about its anticipated cryptocurrency called Libra, confirming details about the stablecoin’s backers and timeline for its release.

After much speculation and waiting with bated breath, Facebook has confirmed plans to launch its blockchain-powered stablecoin dubbed Libra in the first half of 2020. The project is headed up by David Marcus, who previously served as president of PayPal and head of Facebook Messenger.

The tech giant today (18 June) introduced Calibra, a new Facebook subsidiary that will provide financial services so that users may participate in the Libra network. The first product launched will be a digital wallet.

“From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message, and at low to no cost,” the release states. “And, in time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.”

The company is touting Libra as a way to give people who may not have access to traditional banking institutions a way to seamlessly spend and transfer cash. It will be accessible to anyone with an entry-level smartphone and data connectivity.

Libra will be backed by a reserve to ensure the currency is stable, the company claims, as opposed to bitcoin, which is a speculative asset. It will be governed, the white paper states, by the independent Libra Association tasked with evolving the ecosystem.

The company aims to have 100 members – composed of multilateral organisations, telecoms groups, venture capitalists, payments firms and more – by the time of its projected 2020 launch date.

Shares in Facebook reportedly surged in anticipation of the launch, with analysts expressing excitement that the platform could generate new forms of revenue with the coin. Libra backers are a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the tech industry, including Visa, PayPal, Vodafone, Uber, Spotify and Lyft. These organisations will contribute to the aforementioned Libra Reserve.

Facebook corporate headquarters sign in Silicon Valley. Image: wolterke/Depositphotos

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic