Saturday, December 29, 2018

Facebook Is Developing a Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp Transfers

I wonder what happened to Amazon Coin?*
From Bloomberg, December 20:
  • First focus will be on remittance market in India, people say
  • Social network is still working out its blockchain strategy
Facebook Inc. is working on making a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on its WhatsApp messaging app, focusing first on the remittances market in India, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is developing a stablecoin -- a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar -- to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. Facebook is far from releasing the coin, because it’s still working on the strategy, including a plan for custody assets, or regular currencies that would be held to protect the value of the stablecoin, the people said.

Facebook has long been expected to make a move in financial services, after hiring former PayPal president David Marcus to run its Messenger app in 2014. In May, Marcus became the head of the company’s blockchain initiatives, which haven’t been discussed publicly in detail. Facebook has been on a hiring spree, and now has about 40 people in its blockchain group, according to employee titles on LinkedIn.

"Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology," a company spokesman said in a statement. "This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share."

WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted mobile-messaging app, is popular in India, with more than 200 million users. The country also leads the world in remittances -- people sent $69 billion home to India in 2017, the World Bank said this year.

The past year has seen a boom in crypto projects related to stablecoins. At one point, there were more than 120 ventures related to this theme, according to Stable.Report, a website that tracks stable tokens. The concept was created to create a digital coin that would be far easier to use on daily purchases because it would be more stable than currencies like Bitcoin.

The idea has proven tough to carry out in real life, with at least one high-profile project shuttered in recent weeks. A stablecoin known as Basis recently closed after eight months. The Hoboken, New Jersey-based company said there was no apparent way around being classified as a security as opposed to a currency, which could significantly reduce the number of potential buyers. The swift collapse came after Basis drew well-known backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Perhaps the most high-profile stablecoin to date, Tether, has also been surrounded by controversy. While Tether’s creators say each of its tokens is backed by one U.S. dollar, the company’s refusal to be audited has raised questions about whether that’s the case....MORE
See, for example 2017's "Whatever Happened to Amazon Coin? (AMZN)"
Going on five years ago Amazon introduced Amazon Coin to purchase apps for their Kindle. Here's the press release:
Introducing Amazon Coins: A New Virtual Currency for Kindle Fire
There was a small flurry of excitement, Amazon was giving them away as a sort of "loyalty reward" and then.....nothing.

We had a couple posts on the AC:
February 2013
Amazon is Introducing "Amazon Coins" Virtual Currency (AMZN)

"Currency" may be stretching it at this moment but the potential is there.

May 2013
"Amazon Coins Expands to France, Italy, and Spain – Submit Now for Amazon Coins worth Millions of Euros" (AMZN)
That was the headline at Amazon's Developer page.
I was reminded of this story while reading about Scotland coin. As far as I can tell AmazonCoin is the perfect cryptocurrency for.....Amazon.