Facebook has finally taken the wraps off its long-awaited cryptocurrency.
The social media giant has revealed that it will be launching the new Libra cryptocurrency as part of its blockchain-powered Calibra digital wallet, coming to Messenger and WhatsApp in 2020.
Facebook says you'll be able to send Libra to "almost anyone with a smartphone" quickly and easily, and at a low cost - and the new cryptocurrency can be used for anything from paying for a coffee to riding public transport.
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Although fairly sparse on exact details, Facebook says that Calibra can help those in developing countries where even the most basic financial services are out of reach, quoting recent research that says almost half of the adults in the world don’t have an active bank account.
"This is the challenge we’re hoping to address with Calibra, a new digital wallet that you’ll be able to use to save, send and spend Libra," the company says.
Calibra has already signed up a decent posse of backers, with Mastercard, PayPal, Spotify and Uber among those pledging their support.
Facebook says that Calibra will use verification and anti-fraud processes similar to those currently being used by banks and credit card providers, including automated systems that will monitor your usage to flag any potentially fraudulent behavior.
Calibra will also come with dedicated live support if you lose your phone or forget your password, with Facebook also promising refunds if your account is compromised.
Crucially, the company says that Calibra will run as a completely separate subsidiary of Facebook, and won't share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without getting the user's consent.
There's no concrete info on an exact release date yet, but Facebook is promising to reveal more soon.
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