Facebook reorganization: what’s happening
Crypto community has been engaged in hot discussions over Facebook plans to launch its own blockchain platform. The rumors started after the Head of Messenger David Marcus announced on May, 8, that he was leaving his current position to create “a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch”.
Marcus had been the president of PayPal before he joined Facebook. He’s also an early Bitcoin investor and has joined Coinbase board in the end of 2017. Cheddar reporter Alex Heath thinks that Marcus is the best candidate for this task as he is really passionate about blockchain.
The new team will consist of less than a dozen employees, including Instagram’s VP of Engineering, James Everingham, and Instagram’s VP of Product, Kevin Weil.
This move is a part of massive reorganization in Facebook, which is the company’s biggest restructuring in history, according to Recode.
Facebook crypto plans: is this for real?
Earlier this year Mark Zuckerberg admitted on his Facebook page that he was interested in blockchain technology and was considering launching his own cryptocurrency, at least he was planning to investigate the technology that could “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands”, presenting that as one of his goals for 2018.
Although in February Marcus said that Facebook didn’t plan to rush into cryptomarket, Facebook has been interested in the topic for quite a long time. More than a year ago, a member of its corporate development team Morgan Beller started her own research of blockchain technology and its possible incorporation into a social platform.
Beller is the only known Facebook employee that was deeply involved into blockchain studies. Although Facebook was experimenting with digital currency long before that, in 2009. They released Facebook Credits that could be used for in-game purchases (for example in Farmville). This initiative was shut down back in 2011.
Does Facebook need blockchain?
Facebook has also been experimenting with in-app payment options: Facebook Messenger payment system has been in place since 2015, but US-market surveys show that only 70% of users consider this method convenient, only 23% think it secure, and only 13% use it regularly.
Cryptocoin would potentially work great with Messenger payment system (that is supposed to have 2.2 billion users worldwide) and also could work out for Facebook Marketplace that allows users to buy and sell goods.
Instagram is also enthusiastically developing in-app purchases by integrating an option for booking salon and restaurant appointments.
What are they really up to?
However, absolutely no official statements on this subject have been made so far, officials on the contrary claim that Facebook is not going to rush into this space. They even banned adverts promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) following Google and Twitter path. However, one of the firm’s ad policy directors, Rob Leathern, said the policy would be revisited once Facebook has a greater understanding of the space.
What to expect?
Crypto analysts say that the crypto market is underdeveloped and unstable, and obviously not ready to welcome such a whale as Facebook. However, it is obvious that this is the right time for new beginnings inside the company. All big tech companies (Amazon, IBM, Apple) are trying to chart their own path in blockchain, riding the wave and enjoying new opportunities.
Facebook can apply the blockchain technology in the following areas:
- Enhancement of users’ control of their personal data (especially after scandals with data leakage)
- Encrypted data storage (that’s Recode’s assumption). But as Reuters found out earlier, it’s cheaper for financial institutions to develop a similar product using existing technologies
- Facebook token (here’s a valuable opinion on the topic). This FBToken might be distributed among stakeholders and users and earned for social activity and content creating
- The first world case of mass and regular use of cryptocurrency. With 2.2 billion users (and more, if including 5 billion users of Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) it would be the greatest example of blockchain implementation in history. This seems a lot like Telegram seeking to create mass cryptocurrency by launching TON.
As we witness plantiful opportunities provided by blockchain, it is obvious that in the foreseeable future all the big players will somehow join the hype with their own solutions. Will Facebook pioneer - we’ll see soon.