Facebook creates one currency to bind them all – Zuckerberg

22 Apr 2010

Facebook is in the process of building a single currency system for its 400m strong population – a compelling e-commerce marketplace through which millions of dollars already flow – founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the company’s f8 developer conference.

The move is intended to take advantage of the growing external ecosystem that Facebook Connect is already creating, which includes nine out of 10 news service providers and the top 10 iPhone apps.

As reported by Siliconrepublic.com, Facebook sees significant growth opportunity in creating a virtual currency that can be trusted by users and deployed across the company’s myriad of apps from third-party developers, including popular games like Zynga’s FarmVille.

Underlining the importance of the Connect strategy which links most websites directly into users’ Facebook accounts, Zuckerberg said last night: “Today, web exists as a series of unstructured links between pages. This has been a model but really it’s just the start.

Social networking, he said, “puts people at the centre of the web. It’s about meaningful connections between people and things. ‘I am friends with you, I’m attending this event, I like this band.’”

Connect with Open Graph

He said the next phase of Facebook Connect will embrace a new strategy called Open Graph that will link people more effectively with things and capitalise on the strengths of online brands that operate separate to Facebook. He explained that while Facebook maps out and connects people, services like Yelp map out and connect small businesses and services.

“Open Graph will bring all these things together. Instant social and personal experiences everywhere you go, every website, connection and every product you use. We learned from Connect that social connections are very powerful, we also learned that the less obstruction there is and the faster you can get to things, the more effective they are.”

Zuckerberg stressed the rapid growth of social networking giant Facebook and how fundamental Connect and mobile are to its ongoing growth. “At the last f8, we had less than 100m people on Facebook. Now there’s more than 400m people and this number is growing faster than ever before.

“When building a website today there’s a good chance that most of your users are already on Facebook and if not, they will be soon. We’re seeing even faster growth in other areas. It took us five years to reach 100m users on the web but it took only three years to reach that number of mobile users. In the last year alone, mobile users have grown by five times.

“Connect has grown faster – it has taken less than one year to reach 100m people around the web using Connect on web and mobile devices.

“Developers using our technologies are having a lot of success and that’s why a lot of developers are building on our technology today. Nine out of 10 of the top news sites have Connect integrations. The top 10 iPhone apps use Connect and 20 of the TechCrunch 50 finalists have used Connect

“A lot of start-ups are using Connect and all their users are using Connect throughout the experience. We are excited about this trend and want to make it simpler for developers to build and use these experiences.”

Policy changes at Facebook

Zuckerberg outlined some key policy changes occurring on Facebook.

“First, we are going to combine all permission dialogues into a single permission dialogue. When someone comes to our site, a dialogue that has all the info and permissions you need will be there to let them proceed to the app, in just one step.

“Second, we had this policy where you could not store and cache any data for more than 24 hours – we’re going to get rid of that policy,” Zuckerberg said to applause from developers. “So now, if a person comes to your site and uses permissions they can store there will be no more having to build new APIs and code paths just to handle information that Facebook users can share with you. This is going to make building on the Facebook platform much simpler.

“Third, credits. Right now, if someone comes to ecosystem, a lot of developers are building out own stores, credit cards and store value. Our view is that we’ll create a single currency that people can use and make it a lot simpler for people, one store currency. This is better for apps – lower friction to pay for things in every app you use. So far, we have been focused on building systems to handle the millions of dollars of transactions that are already organically flowing through Facebook apps and the Connect site.”

Zuckerberg said that at present there are almost 100 different apps in the beta programme for the new currency. Developers interested in joining the programme can go to online and volunteer to be included.

“We are building up quickly and we are focused on building it out quickly into our ecosystem of websites and apps.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years